Georgia Southern alum McKinnon, Louisiana product Mitchell propel teams to victories on NFL Wildcard Weekend

Published 1:22 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A pair of Sun Belt alumni running backs—Jerick McKinnon of the Kansas City Chiefs and Elijah Mitchell of the San Francisco 49ers—led their teams to victories on NFL Wild Card Weekend.

McKinnon, a Georgia Southern alum, got the start and rushed for a season-high 61 yards on 12 carries. He also contributed a season-high 81 yards and a touchdown—his second in as many weeks—through the air on six catches in a 42-21 Chiefs victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mitchell, a Louisiana product, also earned the start in his first-ever postseason appearance, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts as the 49ers held on for a one-possession win over the Dallas Cowboys, 23-17.

ULM alumnus running back Derrick Gore had three carries for three yards out of the Kansas City Chiefs backfield.

Defensive back Josh Norman out of Coastal Carolina had a tackle in the 49ers win, while fellow Chanticleer product defensive lineman Tarron Jackson registered a tackle in the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Troy alumnus defensive lineman Steve McLendon was on the winning side of that matchup, contributing a tackle, a sack and a forced fumble. Fellow Trojan product defensive lineman Mario Addison rounded out the Sun Belt’s defensive performances with a tackle in the Buffalo Bills 47-17 trouncing of the New England Patriots.

With temperatures in the single digits, kicker Tyler Bass out of Georgia Southern converted on 5-of-7 extra points in the Bills win.

Offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe played three snaps on special teams in the Cowboys loss.

Five Sun Belt alumni running back Darrynton Evans (App State, Tennessee Titans), defensive back Shemar Jean-Charles (App State, Green Bay Packers), offensive lineman Kendall Lamm (App State, Tennessee Titans), defensive back Chandon Sullivan (Georgia State, Green Bay Packers) and offensive lineman Aaron Brewer (Texas State, Tennessee Titans) earned byes to the Divisional Round as members of the No. 1-seeded Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans.

Forty-nine Sun Belt alumni—representing all 10 football programs—earned NFL roster spots entering the 2021 season. Twenty advanced to the NFL playoffs, with 16 moving on to the Divisional Round.

Sun Belt football alumni dotted 24-of-32 NFL rosters during the 2021 season and are represented on 11-of-14 playoff clubs and 7-of-8 teams that advanced to the Divisional Round.

App State
^ Akeem Davis-Gaither – LB, Cincinnati Bengals
^ Darrynton Evans – RB, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week)
Shemar Jean-Charles – DB, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
Kendall Lamm – OL, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week)
* Josh Thomas – S, Buffalo Bills

Coastal Carolina 
Tarron Jackson – DL, Philadelphia Eagles (1 G, 1 Tackle)
Josh Norman – DB, San Francisco 49ers (1 G, 1 Tackle)

Georgia Southern
Tyler Bass – K, Buffalo Bills (1 G, 1 GS, 5-for-7 XP)
Matt Breida – RB, Buffalo Bills (N/A)
Jerick McKinnon – RB, Kansas City Chiefs (1 G, 1 GS, 6 Receptions, 81 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 12 Rushes, 61 Yards)

Georgia State 
Chandon Sullivan – DB, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)

^ Kevin Dotson – OL, Pittsburgh Steelers
* Elijah McGuire – RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Elijah Mitchell – RB, San Francisco 49ers (1 G, 1 GS, 27 Rushes, 96 Yards, 1 Touchdown)
* Trey Ragas – RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Derrick Gore – RB, Kansas City Chiefs (1 G, 3 Rushes, 3 Yards)

Texas State
Aaron Brewer – OL, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week)
Ty Nsekhe – OL, Dallas Cowboys (1 G)

Mario Addison – DL, Buffalo Bills (1 G, 1 Tackle)
Steve McLendon – DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 G, 1 Tackle, 1.0 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble)

* Practice Squad
^ Injured Reserve

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