Mike Edwards, Darian Kinnard Headed to Super Bowl LVIII with Kansas City Chiefs
Two Kentucky Wildcats, safety Mike Edwards and offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, are headed to Super Bowl LVIII with the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. Edwards is on the 53-man roster, while Kinnard is on the practice squad. The Chiefs will meet the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Feb. 11 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Moreover, Austin Moss, a Wildcat defensive end from 2006-09 and native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is in his fifth season as the director of player engagement for the 49ers.
Edwards, a native of Cincinnati, was a four-year stalwart for the Wildcats, playing in all 51 games, starting the last 44. His UK career totals featured:
- 10 interceptions, fourth in school history
- Two interception returns for touchdowns
- 318 tackles, second in school history among defensive backs
- 20.5 tackles for loss
- 23 pass breakups
He earned All-Southeastern Conference honors his last three seasons – second-team All-SEC by Associated Press and Phil Steele as a senior; first-team All-SEC by Phil Steele as a junior; and second-team All-SEC by AP as a sophomore.
Edwards helped lead the Wildcats to 29 wins during his four seasons (2014-18), the second-most for any UK senior class since freshmen became eligible in the early 1970s. UK played in three straight bowl games, 2016 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, 2017 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and the VRBO Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019. It was only the third time in school history that UK played in three consecutive postseason games. In his senior season, UK’s 10-3 record and Citrus Bowl championship was UK’s best season in 41 years, since the 1977 squad went 10-1.
Edwards, who earned a degree in family sciences at Kentucky in 2018, was the 35th pick of the third round in the 2019 NFL Draft, the 99th pick overall.
This marks Edwards’ fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Chiefs. Prior to Kansas City, he spent four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning a Super Bowl ring in 2021.
This season, Edwards has played in 17 games and has totaled 51 tackles, five pass breakups, one interception and a 97-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Kinnard, who played at Kentucky from 2018-21, is in his second season with the Chiefs. During his Wildcat career, the Knoxville, Tennessee native, played in 46 career games with 39 consecutive starts. He was an essential component to the “Big Blue Wall,” which has been under consideration for the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s top offensive line, four of the last five seasons, including finalists in 2021.
As a senior, he was named a consensus first-team All-American, earning first-team honors from Football Writers Association of America, Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBS/247sports, Phil Steele and the Senior Bowl. He was a second-team All-American by Pro Football Focus, The Sporting News, USA Today and The Athletic. He was one of only three Power Five conference tackles to grade at 85 percent or better as a run blocker and pass blocker by Pro Football Focus. He was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection.
Kinnard was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, just the second Kentucky player to win the award, which annually has been given to the SEC’s top blocker since 1935. He also was a semifinalist for both the 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award, given to an offensive or defensive lineman who combines outstanding performance on the field with the character and discipline of NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman.
A four-year letterman and three-year starter, he helped Kentucky to a 33-17 record and four consecutive bowl victories. His career was bookended by 10-3 records and Vrbo Citrus Bowl wins as a freshman (2018 season) and senior (2021 season). He blocked for three players who had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons, including UK all-time leading rusher Benny Snell Jr. In addition to first-team All-America honors as a senior, he was second-team All-America as a junior.
UK has had 33 Wildcats play for teams that advanced to the Super Bowl a total of 44 times.
Carwell Gardner leads the list with four Super Bowl appearances with Buffalo, with Larry Seiple player in three Super Bowls with Miami and Jacob Tamme has three appearances with Denver, Indianapolis and Atlanta.
Both Edwards and Kinnard are appearing in their second Super Bowl. Edwards earned a Super Bowl ring in 2021 with Tampa Bay, while Kinnard and his Chiefs won last year’s Super Bowl over the Eagles.
Overall, 17 Wildcats have won a total of 18 Super Bowl rings.