From Dusseldorf to Phoenix, Sebastian Vollmer’s path to Super Bowl 49 was an unconventional one.
In 2003, as a 220 pound high school senior at Quirinus Gymnasium in Germany, Vollmer didn’t garner much interest from major college football programs. But a standout performance for a European all-star team at the NFL Global Junior Championship put him on the map — in this case, even across the Atlantic.
Then came Art Briles, then the head coach at the University of Houston.
“I didn’t get to know him until I signed, until I actually went to campus,” Vollmer told Sports Radio 610’s John Lopez Friday at Radio Row in Phoenix. “He was a great coach. Kind of took me under his wing.”
Vollmer played under Briles for his first four seasons, before Briles took the Baylor job and Houston brought on a fast-rising offensive coordinator from Oklahoma, Kevin Sumlin, who coached Vollmer for one more.
“He believed in me,” Vollmer said of Briles. “I’ve gotta be thankful for him. He gave me a chance. It doesn’t happen all the time, giving a scholarship to a kid from Germany.”
Playing football 3,500 miles from home, and in the heart of Texas, wasn’t without some culture shock.
“It was,” Vollmer said. “But I gotta say, Texans in general, I would say they were extremely nice to me. They really helped me out. I remember the first day I walk into the locker room, I didn’t understand a word (they were saying), but they were inviting me to barbeques and all this stuff. I don’t know. They always welcomed me. It wasn’t always easy, but looking back, I loved every minute of it.”
By 2009, Vollmer had established solid NFL draft stock, and was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round. He blossomed into an impact player on head coach Bill Belichick’s offensive line protecting Tom Brady, playing in 74 games in his six seasons since, starting 67 overall and 15 this season.
Vollmer was a member of the Patriots during their 2011 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. But now, Vollmer is preparing for another crack at a Lombardi Trophy, this time, against the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s been a long journey for him, even if he isn’t thinking about it just yet.
“I’m not really into reflecting yet, at least,” Vollmer said. “Maybe after my career.”