From Mid-Major to Superbowl: 7 NFL Stars That Prove You Don’t Have to Go Power 5 to Go Pro

From Mid-Major to Superbowl: 7 NFL Stars That Prove You Don’t Have to Go Power 5 to Go Pro From Mid-Major to Superbowl: 7 NFL Stars That Prove You Don’t Have to Go Power 5 to Go Pro

Plenty of football recruits want to be Power Five athletes and who can blame them? From fancy facilities to increased media attention, to a higher likelihood of being drafted, there are certainly perks to competing in the best conferences in the country. But if you're a recruit with dreams of going pro, don’t sleep on the mid-majors–athletes from smaller schools still have the potential to do big things. Today, I will draw attention to the players from mid-major colleges who have been tearing it up thus far in the playoffs, and who will be worth keeping an eye on come Super Bowl Sunday, when the Eagles take on the Chiefs.

Eagles Key Contributors

1. Kenneth Gainwell, RB - Memphis

Running back Kenneth Gainwell has been great thus far in the playoffs with 160 rushing yards and one touchdown in two games. Though he and Boston Scott are splitting reps at second string, Gainwell has been making the most of his opportunities in a high-caliber offense.

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2. Dallas Goedert, TE - South Dakota State

Former South Dakota State Jackrabbit Dallas Goedert has been as consistent as they come. He’s followed up a strong regular season with 10 receptions thus far across two playoff games, for 81 yards and a receiving touchdown. 

3. Jason Kelce, C - Cincinnati

Jason Kelce has been a star for the Eagles ever since he was picked in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL draft. The center has consistently placed in the Top 10 power rankings for centers and is a crucial component of the offensive line.

4. Javon Hargrave, DT - South Carolina State

Javon Hargrave has been a force to reckon with all season. In fact, he had the second most sacks on his team this year, and has had one sack in two playoff games this season. The only guy with more? He happens to be another mid-major player. 

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5. Hasson Reddick, OLB - Temple

I’m running out of words to describe how Hasson Reddick has been spectacular all season as he led the team with 16 sacks, good enough for 2nd in the league, below only Nick Bosa, who will most likely win defensive player of the year. Reddick’s value to this team cannot be understanded as he led the league with five forced fumbles. Reddick added on to his already impressive resume with 3.5 sacks in two playoff games this year, along with once forced fumble and recovery.

Chiefs Key Contributors

6. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR - University of South Florida

You could argue that Kansas City wouldn’t have beaten Cincinnati without Scantling. When Juju Smith Schuster and Mecole Hardman went down early, Scantling was the next man up and he delivered with six receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was the most yards he had posted all year, including regular season. Scantling played lights out in the AFC Championship Game and will be a cornerback’s nightmare come February 12th.

Related: 5 Tips to Help You Get Recruited for College Football

7. Travis Kelce, TE - Cincinnati

Mano a Mano. Kelce vs. Kelce. Both are incredibly important to their respective teams. This Kelce has been one of the best, if not the best tight end for the past 7 years. The Mahomes to Kelce connection is like that of Brady to Gronk and has been put on full display in these playoffs as Kelce has 21 receptions for 176 yards and three touchdowns. This season he was third in the league in receptions (110) and 2nd in receiving touchdowns (12). It’s impossible to game plan against this guy. Rather, we have become accustomed to seeing him make crucial catches in the later stages of the game, while hurdling defenders, and breaking tackles. Kelce affects all facets of the game, even when he’s double teamed. The Eagles will have their hands tied.

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Images Credit: YouTube/Pinterest

* Originally published on February 10, 2023, by Nicholas Nathanson

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