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Four players headed to Super Bowl 49

The stage is set for Super Bowl 49. Fans will file into Glendale, Ariz., as New England battles Seattle inside the University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015. Seattle secured an NFC Conference title, defeating Green Bay 28-22. New England dismantled Indianapolis 45-7, capturing an AFC Conference crown.

Alabama football will be well represented. Kevin Norwood, James Carpenter, Jesse Williams (injury reserve) and Dont’a Hightower will look to achieve ultimate supremacy. It will be an interesting experience for Norwood and Hightower, but Carpenter and Williams have tasted the champagne before. Both players were members of Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl championship roster.

James Carpenter, OG, Seattle Seahawks

James Carpenter’s rookie season was halted by an ACL injury in 2011, but the four-year pro has been an asset to Seattle’s offensive line. The Seahawks led the National Football League in rushing, averaging 172.6 yards per game. Carpenter set the edge for running back Marshawn Lynch in Sunday’s NFC Conference title match against Green Bay.

Lynch responded by totaling 157 yards and a touchdown on 6.3 yards per carry. Carpenter’s efforts guided Lynch to 1,306 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the 2014 regular season. Carpenter was a member of Alabama’s 2009 roster. He won a Southeastern Conference title and a national championship in two seasons at Tuscaloosa (2009-10).

Kevin Norwood, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Kevin Norwood is slowly building chemistry with Seattle’s quarterback, Russell Wilson. He’s been clutch when given an opportunity, but has dealt with some injuries. Norwood’s caught nine passes for 133 yards. Paul Richardson is another rookie receiver. He was establishing himself as Seattle’s deep threat, until a knee injury occurred against Carolina. Norwood has been asked to step up and fill in. He’s never been afraid of the big moment, going back to his days at Alabama.

Norwood was a three-star prospect, but it didn’t stop the Mississippi native from putting in work. He was known for his hands, balance and body control at Alabama. Norwood was a thorn in LSU’s side, and accounted for 1,275 yards and 12 touchdowns on 81 receptions in his career. He was a member of three national titles (2010, 2012-13) and two SEC championships (2009, 2012).

Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

He’s no Mark Vrabel or Teddy Brushci, but Dont’a Hightower can hold his own. He’s been an anchor on defense for New England in 2014. Hightower recorded eight tackles in New England’s 35-31 victory over Baltimore in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

He ended Sunday’s AFC Conference title game with three tackles against Indianapolis. The Patriots are ninth in the league in run defense, allowing 104.3 yards per game. Hightower totaled 89 tackles, six sacks, two passes defended and a fumble recovery in the 2014 regular season.

Hightower was a force to be reckoned with at Alabama (2008-11). He captained one of the best defenses in Crimson Tide history in 2011. Hightower ended his career with 235 stops, five sacks, two interceptions, seven pass breakups, 10 passes defended, 25 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was a Consensus All-American in 2011.

Hightower was a member of Alabama’s 2009 SEC and national title team. He played in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. Alabama defeated LSU, 21-0.

Jesse Williams, DT, Seattle Seahawks

The talented Australian has been on injury reserve for a second straight second. Williams’s lack of lower body strength has negated him from seeing the field. He has a lot of potential, but needs to get in shape. Williams was a nose guard for two seasons at Alabama (2011-12).

He totaled 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries and a blocked kick. Williams was a member of Alabama’s 2012 SEC title team. He won two national championships with the Crimson Tide (2011, 2012).

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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