Former Southern Arkansas football player Tanner Hudson will become on Sunday only the third Mulerider to suit up for a Super Bowl.
Hudson’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC, 11-5) have the distinction to be the only hometown team to host a Super Bowl when they play defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) for the Lombardi Trophy.
Hudson, a Camden, Tennessee, native and former two-time Southern Arkansas All-American tight end, will wear No. 88 into the pinnacle of professional football that only two Muleriders have experienced before him: Washington's Dennis Woodberry in Super Bowl XXII (42-10 win over Denver) and Seattle's Jordan Babineaux in Super Bowl XL (21-10 loss to Pittsburgh).
Kickoff for Super Bowl LV is set for 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS.
An undrafted free agent signed by the Bucs in 2018, Hudson spent a majority of that season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before being promoted to the main roster for the final two games of the 2018 regular season.
During the 2019 preseason, Hudson emerged as a potential roster mainstay after an impressive four-game stretch saw him haul in 19 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. The touchdown total led all NFL pass catchers, while his receptions and yards ranked second in the league during that time.
In early September, the Buccaneers announced that Hudson was a part of the team's initial 53-man roster and on October 27, the former Mulerider was activated for the first time in his career which came before a Week 8 matchup against the Titans in his home state of Tennessee. The following week, Hudson recorded his first career reception as he hauled in a 12-yard pass early in the fourth quarter in a road game against the Seattle Seahawks.
In a 2020 season that featured a shortened training camp and a deeper tight end room, Hudson has played in 11 games totaling 146 snaps as he operates behind offseason acquisition Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate. Hudson has caught three passes, all of which have resulted in first downs, for 41 yards, while also seeing time on special teams.
In his first action of the season, the Buccaneers' Week 5 game vs. the Bears in Chicago, the third-year pro hauled in a reception of nine yards from new teammate and legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
A two-time All-American and a three-time All-Great American Conference performer as a Mulerider, Hudson caught 143 passes for 2,152 yards and 25 touchdowns. His receiving touchdowns rank third all-time in program history, while his totals in yards and receptions rank fourth and fifth, respectively.
In each of his final three seasons in Magnolia, the athletic tight end recorded at least 40 receptions for over 600 yards with at least six touchdown grabs. He culminated his collegiate career by being named Offensive MVP of the National Bowl game after leading all players in receptions (7) and receiving yards (117), while also catching two touchdown passes. In October of 2019, Hudson was named to the National Bowl's All-Decade Team and three months later he was named a member of the GAC's All-Decade Team.
Dennis Woodberry was a Washington football team defensive back in Super Bowl XXII. He was elected to the SAU Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2005.
Woodberry's journey to Super Bowl XXII began in TexARKana at Arkansas High and traversed east down U.S. 82 to the campus of Southern Arkansas University where he would become a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-America selection for both the Mulerider football and track and field programs. From Magnolia, Woodberry began a professional football career that would include stops in Birmingham and Atlanta before finding his way to the nation's capital.
While in Alabama, Woodberry was an impactful player for the Birmingham Stallions of the now-defunct United States Football League during the 1984 and 1985 seasons. He helped lead the team to the USFL's Southern Division title in 1984 and the USFL's Eastern Conference title in 1985.
Prior to his venture in the USFL, Woodberry was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 63rd overall pick in the third round of the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL players. Following his two-year stint with Birmingham, Woodberry joined the Falcons, who held his NFL rights, in 1986 and after being cut in September was resigned for the final seven games of the 1986 season.
Woodberry would not play a down for the Packers following a 1987 trade to Green Bay, but after that season began with a 24-day player's strike the door was open for Woodberry to continue his career as he signed with Washington and played in 24 games over the next two seasons which included making three starts in the secondary.
Victories for Washington in weeks four through six of that 1987 season were made possible by replacement players like Woodberry. That stretch of wins was a defining moment for the franchise and helped the team make the playoffs as the NFC's No. 3 seed.
On January 10, 1988, Woodberry made the biggest play of his NFL career. On the road at Chicago in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs, the Redskins held a 21-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. In the game's final minutes, Woodberry intercepted a pass from Jim McMahon that helped thwart the first of two final drives by the Bears in what was the final game in the legendary career of Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton.
Woodberry, the first Mulerider football player to be drafted and the first to play in the Super Bowl, still holds the program records for career interceptions (21), single-season interceptions (8; 1981) and career interception return yards (276).
Jordan Babineaux was a Seattle Seahawks defensive back and played in Super Bowl XL. He was named to the SAU Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
A native of Port Arthur, Texas, Babineaux' career as a Mulerider remains one of the most impressive four-year campaigns in program history. Babineaux recorded 213 career tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks in addition to defending 29 passes, recording 10 interceptions (5th All-Time) for 124 yards (9th All-Time), and recovering six fumbles (T3rd All-Time), while forcing two more.
As a senior, he was tabbed as an NCAA First Team All-America honoree as both a cornerback and a kick returner. That season, he registered 68 tackles, including 40 unassisted and defended 14 passes, recovered three fumbles and picked off five passes, while providing several big plays on special teams as he averaged over 28 yards per return which included a momentous mid-October afternoon on the road against Delta State.
Babineaux returned three kicks that day for a then-SAU and a then-GSC single-game record 208 yards, which included a pair of touchdowns to tie the Division II record; one of which he returned 100 yards to tie the league and national records as well. Efforts like that helped spur a playoff berth for the Muleriders in 2003, the program's last trip to the NCAA postseason, and led to the Texan being signed as undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks in 2004.
Babineaux enjoyed a nine-year career that saw him spend his first seven pro seasons with the Seahawks, before playing his final two years with the Tennessee Titans. He registered 600 career NFL tackles, including 471 solo stops, forced eight fumbles, recovered four fumbles, and picked off a dozen passes which included a 57-yard return for a touchdown in a win over the Washington football team in the 2008 NFC Wild Card Round.
His biggest play, which helped give birth to his moniker "Big Play Babs," came in Seattle's 2006 NFC Wild Card game with the Dallas Cowboys. Babineaux chased down Tony Romo after a botched snap on a potential game-winning field goal with 1:19 left as Seattle beat Dallas 21-20.
The season prior, Babineaux's second year as a pro, saw the former Mulerider play in all 16 games with four starts, record three interceptions and combine for 75 total tackles as he contributed to a Seahawk defense that helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance. In Super Bowl XL, Babineaux recorded three solo tackles and broke up a Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward pass in the final seconds of the first quarter.