Pair of Sun Belt alums finish among postseason rushing leaders after falling in NFL Conference Championships

Published 1:04 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

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Two of the top four rushers during the NFL playoffs this season—Louisiana alumnus and San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell and Georgia Southern product and Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon—saw their seasons conclude in three-point losses in the NFL Conference Championship Round.

Mitchell rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries to run his postseason total to 169 rushing yards, trailing only Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals. The rookie also had 50 receiving yards on three receptions in the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

Coastal Carolina alum Josh Norman—a defensive back—also appeared on eight snaps on special teams for the 49ers.

McKinnon rushed for 65 yards on 12 attempts to reach the 150-yard plateau for the postseason and move into fourth place, behind Mixon, Mitchell and Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams. He also tallied 30 receiving yards on three catches in the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

App State alum Akeem Davis-Gaither will represent the Sun Belt in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Feb. 13. The Cincinnati Bengals linebacker accumulated 28 tackles, three passes defended and a forced fumble in nine appearances this season, before being placed on the injured reserve on Nov. 9, 2021.

Forty-nine Sun Belt alumni—representing all 10 football programs—earned NFL roster spots entering the 2021 season. Twenty advanced to the NFL playoffs.

Sun Belt football alumni dotted 24-of-32 NFL rosters during the 2021 season and were represented on 11-of-14 playoff clubs, 7-of-8 teams that advanced to the Divisional Round, 3-of-4 teams that competed on Conference Championship weekend and 1-of-2 Super Bowl participants.

App State
^ Akeem Davis-Gaither – LB, Cincinnati Bengals

Coastal Carolina 
Josh Norman – DB, San Francisco 49ers (1 G)

Georgia Southern
Jerick McKinnon – RB, Kansas City Chiefs (1 G, 1 GS, 12 Rushes, 65 Yards, 3 Receptions, 30 Yards)

Elijah Mitchell – RB, San Francisco 49ers (1 G, 11 Rushes, 20 Yards, 3 Receptions, 50 Yards)

Derrick Gore – RB, Kansas City Chiefs (N/A)

* Practice Squad
^ Injured Reserve

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