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Panthers ride Ohio State connection to Super Bowl

CHARLOTTE -- Corey Brown can't take the field as a Carolina Panther until he takes the locker room as an Ohio State Buckeye.

The Super Bowl-bound Panthers have four former Buckeyes on the roster -- more than any other college -- and the foursome must find one another during each pregame for a healthy reminder.

"We tell each other, 'Play like a Buckeye,'" Brown said. "That's what we do. Take pride in being a Buckeye."

That pride has permeated throughout Carolina's practice facility. Safety Kurt Coleman, who played his last season for Ohio State in 2009, was among the league leaders with seven interceptions in 2015. This has been Coleman's most complete season.

Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., a legendary high school star in Cleveland who led the Buckeyes to the 2006 national title game, is having a career year with a team-leading 10 touchdowns.

Brown and offensive guard Andrew Norwell, who finished their Ohio State careers in 2013, are key components to the Panthers' offensive success. Brown sparked Carolina with an 86-yard touchdown in its 49-15 victory over Arizona in the NFC title game on Sunday.

That all four are having success in 2015 isn't coincidence to Ginn.

"We're competitors that play with passion," he said.

None of the four won a national championship in Columbus, but shared glory is available Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California, against the Denver Broncos.

Coleman said the former Buckeyes love to recall stories of their college days and often hang out away from the team. Coleman went bowling with Brown the other day.

"We take a lot of pride in our work. There's a professionalism; there's a confidence," Coleman said about venturing from Ohio State to the NFL as a seventh-round pick in 2010. "I think there are very few schools where you can come into an NFL locker room and say you've been playing with these type of athletes my whole career, right out of college. Ohio State is one of those schools."