HOUSTON (WPRI) — New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is gearing up for his second Super Bowl appearance, but this time he’ll be playing in familiar territory.
Anyone walking through The Woodlands High School – located north of Houston – will see Amendola’s #80 jersey hanging in the hallway and his signed Super Bowl XLIX football behind glass in the lobby.
“Born and raised in Houston, played a lot of football in Houston, it will be special to go play another game there,” Amendola said.
His picture also adorns the office of his former coach, Mark Schmid.
“He was a great player for us,” said Scmid. “He wasn’t the biggest player, he wasn’t the fastest player, but he was the guy you wanted to have the football when it was on the line.”
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Amendola led his team to the state title game and at the time of his graduation was the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
“It’s a special deal to come back home and play for him,” said Schmid. “I know that just because of talking to him over the years.”
Amendola’s not the only person to don a Highlanders jersey prior to reaching the big game. Former Patriot and three-time Super Bowl champion Larry Izzo also attended The Woodlands High School, as did punter Lee Johnson. Johnson, also a one-time Patriot, made a Super Bowl appearance with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982.
All three paid a visit to the school last year and were gifted commemorative golden footballs.
“Danny played it up big because he was the youngest of the three,” Schmid recalled. “He was kind of like a rock star to the student body and it was awesome. The kids went crazy.”
In addition to Amendola, current Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and OT Cameron Fleming also hail from the Houston area.
Watch the Patriots take on the Falcons on Feb. 5 on Fox Providence. All this week, Eyewitness News is bringing you all the sights and sounds leading up to the big game with live reports from Yianni Kourakis and Kelly Sullivan in Houston.