KC Chiefs’ Saunders, Williams, Blanton, in Super Bowl LVII

A trio of former Missouri prep track and field athletes and their Kansas City Chiefs teammates are in Arizona today looking to win the NFL’s Super Bowl LVII. Two are former All-State throwers who man the defensive line. The other is a tight end who won the Super Bowl last year with the Rams.

St. Louis native Khalen Saunders is a 4th-year defensive tackle. Saunders was a 60′ shot putter for Parkway Central. The 2014 grad earned three All-State medals in the shot put for the Colts and had a 4th state qualification in the discus as a senior. His personal bests are 60-7” in the shot put and 156-9” in the discus. Saunders was 2nd in the Class 4 (of 4) shot put each of his final three years of high school, just missing out on earning a state title.

In football, the now 6-0′, 324-pounder, was an excellent tailback and defensive lineman. His athleticism and agility were jaw-dropping. Despite that, Saunders only had one football scholarship offer. He turned down track and field scholarship offers and went to Western Illinois to play for the Leathernecks. Saunders surpassed all outside expectations. At the senior bowl, Saunders went viral for doing an Ozzie Smith-style flip. 

The Chiefs took Saunders in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Saunders made a quick impact as a rookie helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl 54. Injuries limited Saunders the past two seasons, but he has shined this year. Saunders and his fellow linemen had an impact on All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones’ 3rd-place finish in the defensive player of the year voting. Saunder may have earned himself a free agent contract too rich for the Chiefs with salary cap restrictions.

Saunders high school highlights on hudl.com.

The Chiefs added defensive tackle Brandon Williams midway through the season. The St. Louis native went to Rockwood Summit High School, graduating in 2007. Williams qualified for the state track and field meet twice in the discus. After a 16th-place finish in 2006, Williams earned All-State honors with a 5th-place finish in 2007. Williams had a personal best of 156-6.

Williams played at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. The 6-1, 336-pounder joined the Ravens a year after they claimed the Super Bowl XLVII title against the 49ers at the end of the 2012 season in 2013.

Kendall Blanton‘s father Jerry Blanton was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, playing seven seasons for them. Kendall was a standout tight end at Blue Springs South High School. Blanton appears to have dabbled in track and field, even if just for a short time. Blanton’s MileSplit profile page shows a triple jump result in 2011 as a freshman.

Blanton graduated from South in 2014 and went on to play at Mizzou. Blanton signed with the Rams in 2019 and has been on the Washington roster. Blanton was on the Rams a year ago, making some big playoff catches as they made their way to Super Bowl XLVI and won the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs picked him up this season in September.

Also on the Chiefs is defensive end, Tershawn Wharton. The St. Louis native went to University City High School before college at Missouri S&T University. Wharton signed with the Chiefs in April of 2020 and is seeking his first Super Bowl ring in his second appearance in three seasons. Wharton doesn’t appear to have any high school track and field experience. 

Texas native Nick Bolton became an All-American linebacker at the University of Missouri. Bolton was a Butkus Award finalist and was on the Nagurski Trophy watch list. The Chiefs drafted the middle linebacker in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and the tackling machine has made some big plays in his short career. Bolton has 180 combined tackles this season.

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