Only two players in Super Bowl LV called either the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech home, but both could be key factors in whether the Kansas City Chiefs repeat as Super Bowl champions this year.
Former Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has been a jack of all trades for the Chiefs this year utilizing his blazing speed to create mismatches across the field. Hardman, the 56th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has caught 41 passes for 560 yards and four touchdowns this season. Thus far in the playoffs, Hardman has caught six passes for 62 yards, one touchdown. He's also broken off two runs for 54 yards and a touchdown.
It's Hardman's rushing and overall speed that can give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense additional headaches Sunday night. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has utilized Hardman in jet sweeps coming around the back of the offense as the line and receivers try to seal off the edge to give Hardman a free path to operate. Here' s a great example of this from the AFC Championship game:
Hardman has also been a key cog in the offense as a secondary or tertiary option behind top wide receiver Tyreek Hill and All Pro tight end Travis Kelce.
Still, Hardman has one other area he can help out, special teams. In the 2020 regular season, Hardman returned 25 punts for 176 yards and one touchdown while also returning nine kickoffs for 184 yards. In the playoffs in 2020, Hardman has largely been a non-factor in the return game. But, all it takes is a couple of missed tackles and he can take it to the house or completely flip the field, as the Miami Dolphins found out in December.
And it's special teams where the other product from a Georgia university could be the difference maker in the game.
Kicker Harrison Butker was drafted in the seventh round out of Georgia Tech in 2017 by the Carolina Panthers. He ended up signing with the Chiefs from the Panthers' practice squad and hasn't looked back since.
In 2020, since Week 11, Butker has been nearly perfect. He's missed one extra point and one field goal since that point. Overall in 2020, he's 25-27 on field goals (92.6%) with a long of 58 yards; while also going 48-54 (88.9%) on extra points. And just for good measure, he's averaging a touchback on 75.8 percent of his kickoffs this season.
Butker has done some of his best work in the playoffs for the Chiefs. During Kansas City's Super Bowl run in 2019, the former Yellow Jacket was 15 for 16 on extra points and 2 for 2 on field goals. This season, Butker is 6 for 7 on extra points and 4 for 5 on field goals.
As any Buffalo Bills or New England Patriots fan can tell you, having a dependable kicker in the Super Bowl can be the difference between hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and walking off the field hanging your head. Butker's performance to this point in the regular season and playoffs should give Chiefs fans comfort if the game comes down to a field goal.