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San Marcos Alum Alex Mack is First From Santa Barbara to Play in Super Bowl

Alex Mack
Alex Mack (Courtesy photo)

The NFL uses Roman numerals to signify each Super Bowl. This year's championship game is LI, or the 51st.

Alex Mack wears No. 51 for the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday, the San Marcos High alum became No. 1, as in the first prep player from Santa Barbara to play in a Super Bowl.

Mack was snapping the ball to quarterback Matt Ryan in the Falcons' 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston.

Coach Dan Quinn and an offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have both said Mack is one of the most important factors in the Atlanta offense this year. The Falcons were the highest-scoring team in the NFL.

Dare Holdren was the defensive coordinator at San Marcos and assistant wrestling coach when Mack was tearing it up on the football field and wrestling mat. He was All-CIF in football and a CIF State Meet runner-up in wrestlingd

“I always knew he could make it to the pros because of his work ethic, character, smarts and height,” Holdren, the principal at Solvang School, told Noozhawk. “I must admit I never imagined him making four Pro Bowls and being in the Super Bowl. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, though.”

Holdren has Mack jerseys from Cleveland and Atlanta, and has traveled to both cities to watch him play. Twice he caught him live this season, making a trip to Atlanta and driving down to Los Angeles when the Falcons played the Rams at the Coliseum.

“I have seen at least one game a year, every year, except when he was hurt,” Holdren said. “He always leaves post-game passes for me so we can chat. We also got to meet up in Green Bay and New Orleans. We are all so proud of him.”

It's an amazing turnaround for Mack, who toiled for seven years with the Cleveland Browns and never played in a postseason game.

When he became a free agent and was shopping around for a new team last spring, he liked what he saw in Atlanta. 

Hey, this guy is really smart. He carried a 4.2 GPA at San Marcos and won the Draddy Trophy — also known as the academic Heisman — in his senior year at Cal.

In a brief postgame interview with NFL.com, Mack called his journey "amazing."

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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