From being picked 14th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 NFL Draft to beating the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, former Vol Derek Barnett is going to Super Bowl LII in his first year.
For Tennessee's all-time sacks leader, a Super Bowl has always been the goal. He mentioned it back in an article he wrote for the Players' Tribune in April.
"I want to lead a defense," he said. "I want to be an important part of a winning team. I want to win a Super Bowl."
Let's take a look at the "important part of a winning team" piece of that.
-During the regular season as a rookie, Derek Barnett had five sacks (top five in sacks among rookies) and one forced fumble.
-The Pro Football Writers of America named him to its All-Rookie Team.
That all came together Sunday night. With the Vikings driving in the red zone, looking to score a touchdown and tie the game at 14, Derek Barnett was there to make a play: a strip sack, recovered by the Eagles.
Nick Foles threw a touchdown on the next drive, Philly went up 21-7, and the rest is history.
Now, going into the Super Bowl, the rookie has separated himself from his fellow VFLs in the NFL. Barnett is the only former Tennessee football player playing in the Super Bowl this year. Last year, Justin Coleman came away with a ring. With a chance to lift Lombardi high, we'll see if Barnett can soar with the Eagles.
Kickoff for Super Bowl LII is 6:30 p.m. on February 4. You can watch the game on WBIR.