The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions
Champions have long defined the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The list of Hall of Fame athletes who have competed in the annual contest is staggering. But the list of champions extends well past the football game. Since its inception in 1934, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has given opportunities to young athletes in many amateur sporting events.
In late 2016, the Allstate Sugar Bowl published stories on five athletes who competed in Sugar Bowl events and then went on to excellence after their New Orleans’ experiences.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions – Derek Wolfe
The 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl featured some high-profile names and one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history. It was the final game for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and the end of an impressive era for Gators.
Florida sent out Tebow in style with a 51-24 victory against previously-undefeated Cincinnati.
Unnoticed in that particular game was Bearcats sophomore defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. But if you’re an NFL offensive coordinator who has to game plan for the Denver Broncos now, you know Wolfe well.
Now in his fifth season in the NFL, Wolfe has become one of the premiere run stoppers in the league and a key cog in the Broncos vaunted defense. He was vital in Denver’s NFL championship run last season. In Super Bowl 50, he recorded five tackles and a half sack in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory against the Carolina Panthers.
Wolfe’s stellar 2015 season earned him a four-year contract extension that will pay him $37 million.
Considering the obstacles Wolfe faced on and off the field, it’s an impressive journey which he took.
A broken childhood in Youngstown, Ohio, forced him to move to Lisbon, Ohio, where he stayed with different families. Finally, in his junior year in high school, he found a permanent home with best friend Logan Hoppel and his family.
Wolfe said he learned a strong work ethic from his adopted family and how important it was to never quit and never back down from a fight.
He played at Cincinnati from 2008-11 and was a second team Associated Press All-American his senior year in 2011. In the 2012 NFL draft, Wolfe was taken by the Broncos with the 36th overall pick. It was a dream-come-true, he said.
After an impressive rookie season with the Broncos in 2012, Wolfe faced another setback. He suffered a spinal contusion in a preseason game in August of 2013. He was able to recover to play in the season opener but never felt right as the year wore on. Then in late November, after a seizure caused by the injury, he was sidelined for the ’13 season.
“Going through that, I hate to say that I’m glad I went through it, but it was something that I really needed for me to see what is really important in my life,” Wolfe said.
In April of 2014, Wolfe returned to football training activities. The 2014 season was another good one for him. Then in 2015, he recorded 35 tackles and 5.5 sacks to become one of the top inside defensive players in the NFL and help lead Denver to Super Bowl 50.
“Despite facing challenging obstacles and life situations, many athletes are like Derek Wolfe,” said Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan. “They overcome the obstacles thanks to a great work ethic and an unwavering belief in themselves.”
From its earliest years, the Sugar Bowl Committee has been honored to provide opportunities for young athletes from around the country, athletes like Derek Wolfe. That’s because at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, We Believe in Champions.
– Story by Trey Iles