Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday with the entire globe serving as the audience for television’s No. 1 annual event.
For the first time ever, the Super Bowl is headed to the extravagant and grandiose stage of Las Vegas, NV. This rematch of Super Bowl LIV features a Chiefs franchise aiming to cement its dynasty status. Kansas City hopes to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl champions since the 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots, with eyes set on winning their third ring in five seasons and fourth in franchise history. On the other sideline is the 49ers, which despite toting five Lombardi Trophies, are beyond starved for another. It’s been 29 years since San Francisco’s last championship, and with a win in Las Vegas, the 49ers tie the Steelers and Patriots for most Super Bowl wis in NFL history.
It’s the football game every player dreams of winning from the time they first throw on the shoulder pads, and continue envisioning when winning conference championships and bowl games at the collegiate level. Every stage of football builds up to this ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl, and this year, seven former MAC players can accomplish that ultimate goal Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium.
The conference’s impact on recent Super Bowls has been undeniable. Former Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore scored a crucial fourth quarter touchdown in Super Bowl LVIII, former Miami (OH) wide receiver Sean McVay won Super Bowl LVI as the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach, and former Kent State wide receiver Julian Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards in Super Bowl LIII to become the MAC’s first Super Bowl MVP.
Here’s a rundown of all the MACtion in Super Bowl LVIII:
Kansas City Chiefs
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan (#24)
Skyy Moore already cemented a place in Super Bowl lore, and he’s only 23 years old. The second-year wide receiver is set to participate in his second Super Bowl, and the first one was memorable for the former Western Michigan standout. With 9:22 remaining in Super Bowl LVII, Moore caught a 4-yard touchdown pass to hand the Chiefs a 35-27 advantage over the Eagles — the final touchdown of the night for the eventual champions. The pivotal moment also marked Moore’s first career touchdown. This year, he scored for the first time in the regular season while hauling in 21 receptions for 244 yards.
Moore suited up in 14 games this season, playing over 50 percent of Kansas City’s offensive snaps on 11 occasions. However, he hasn’t played since Dec. 17 due to a knee injury. Amidst the obstacles, the three-time All-MAC selection is slated to return for the showdown in Las Vegas, as the Chiefs activated him off injured reserve while assigning defensive end Charles Omenihu to the IR list.
Mike Danna, DE, Central Michigan (#51)
If you search Mike Danna’s alma mater, the top result will always be Michigan, as players are typically associated with their final collegiate stop — even in the modern age of the transfer portal. However, the majority of Danna’s college days were spent in Mount Pleasant, serving as a member of Central Michigan’s roster from 2015 through 2018 before relocating to Michigan as a grad transfer for the 2019 season. Danna is certain to have an impact Sunday, starting 16 regular season games and three postseason games in 2023. In his first season as a full-time starter, the former Chippewa recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks along with 50 tackles and seven tackles for loss. The fourth-year Chief has yet to record a sack this postseason, and landing one in the Super Bowl will certainly be a challenge — pitted against First Team All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams from the right defensive end spot.
Nic Jones, CB, Ball State (#31)
Nic Jones is already Super Bowl bound and he hasn’t even completed his first NFL season. The former Ball State cornerback was selected 250th overall in the NFL Draft last April, becoming the first Cardinal alum chosen since 2020. Jones suited up nine times in the regular season, registering four tackles and one tackle for loss as a rookie reserve. The cornerback is most prominent on special teams, playing roughly 48 percent of special teams snaps this season. So far in the playoffs, Jones recorded two tackles. He logged one defensive snap against the Bills, but his other 32 postseason snaps resulted as a member of the special teams unit. Thus, Ball State faithful should stay on the lookout for the No. 31 jersey on kickoffs and punts.
Mike Caliendo, G, Western Michigan (#66)
Mike Caliendo was already a Super Bowl champion before he ever trotted onto an NFL field. Last season as a rookie, he spent the entire campaign on the Chiefs’ practice squad, earning a ring with the Super Bowl LVII champions. The 2021 First Team All-MAC selection finally made his NFL debut in September on special teams and wound up playing 64 offensive snaps and 36 special teams snaps in the regular season. Caliendo has yet to enter the offensive huddle this playoffs, but he played a combined 14 special teams snaps in the Chiefs’ three postseason victories. Now Caliendo is granted the opportunity to claim his second ring with a much greater impact on the field.
San Francisco 49ers
Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan (#76)
Jaylon Moore was selected in the fifth round by the 49ers in 2021. Every 49ers team Moore has been associated with qualified for the NFC Championship Game, but this year’s squad pushed one step further to the Super Bowl. Moore has certainly been involved in this run, starting two regular season contests when All-Pro Trent Williams went down with a midseason injury. The former MAC lineman logged 226 offensive snaps and 81 special teams snaps in the regular season. This postseason, his presence has been almost exclusively limited to special teams — lining up once with the offense in the and totaling 12 special teams snaps in the 49ers’ two playoff victories.
Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo (#0)
Samuel Womack’s sophomore season in the NFL featured some adversity when he suffered a Week 1 knee injury, forcing him to miss nine consecutive contests. But the former Toledo cornerback returned Nov. 23 and became a fixture of the special teams unit. He also played the majority of defensive snaps during the 49ers’ Week 18 win over the Rams when several starters were rested. While Womack saw action in all three of San Francisco’s playoff games as a rookie, he has yet to appear in the 2023 playoffs. Signs point to Womack remaining on the healthy inactive list for the fourth consecutive game, but still, the 2022 fifth round pick receives an opportunity to earn a Super Bowl ring should the 49ers emerge in Las Vegas.
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State (#83)
Willie Snead is in his 10th NFL season after manufacturing a stellar college career in Muncie, which included 1,516 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in the 2013 season. The undrafted Snead made a perfect first impression in the NFL, collecting a career-high 984 receiving yards in 2015 with the New Orleans Saints. Snead eventually moved to Baltimore where he became a starring receiver with the Ravens, before shuffling between the Panthers, Raiders, and 49ers the last three seasons. After logging zero receptions in 2022, Snead made a return to the stat sheet this year, hauling in two catches for 14 yards. Christmas Day marked the former Ball State star’s last on-field appearance, and he’s expected to be a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl after receiving that designation in the NFC Championship Game. This will be the veteran’s first opportunity at a ring.