There is just one football game remaining in the 2022 NFL season. Super Bowl LVII kicks off the evening off Sunday, Feb. 12, and when it does, three former DII football players will be on the field.
If you don't have a horse in the race, and are a DII football fan, perhaps your rooting interest should lay with the Kansas City Chiefs. All three DII alum are on the Chiefs' active roster.
Jody Fortson, TE, Valdosta State
Fortson, who now backs up Travis Kelce at tight end for the Chiefs, was a wide receiver at Valdosta State. Despite battling injuries in 2018, he was part of the national championship roster that defeated Ferris State in the then-record-setting 49-47 game for the DII title. In fact, Fortson was on the receiving end of one of quarterback Rogan Wells' record five touchdown passes. Fortson played in both the Tropical Bowl and College Gridiron Showcase before catching the Chiefs' eye and signing on as an undrafted free agent in 2019. For the season, he has 108 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
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Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
Williams, a 6-foot-1 defensive lineman, was a MIAA power during his time there and was the 2012 MIAA and D2Football defensive player of the year, finishing his time in Joplin as the Lions' all-time sack leader with 27. He has spent the bulk of his career as a Baltimore Ravens mainstay, starting 114 games since they selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft. Arguably, his best season was his 2018 campaign when he recorded one sack and 34 tackles in getting a Pro Bowl nomination. Now 33 and in the backend of his career, he signed on with the Chiefs practice squad and was elevated to the roster in early December.
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Joshua Williams, DB, Fayetteville State
Williams was the first DII alum off the board in the 2022 NFL draft, selected in the fourth round (135th overall) by the Chiefs. A slew of injuries to the Chiefs secondary saw Williams start four games as a rookie and he had three games with at least seven tackles. He also recorded his first career postseason interception in a critical moment off Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow in the AFC Championship Game. He had three interceptions in his final season with the Broncos, but quarterbacks started throwing away from him because of how talented Williams was as a cover corner. He finished his rookie campaign with 40 tackles and an interception.
One to note: Tershawn Wharton, Missouri S&T: The above looks at the active players for Super Bowl Sunday. Wharton, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs for the 2020 season, had appeared in every game in his first two seasons before going on injured reserve after five games in 2022. He had one sack and eight tackles at the time of his injury. He was a sack machine for the Miners, finishing his career with 35.5 sacks including a monster 13.5-sack campaign in 2017.