Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – Defenders From the AFC Champs Who Were Once Under Recruited or Undrafted

Franchise Sports Media


In part one, we discovered the Tampa Bay Buccaneer defenders who once felt the brunt of being under-recruited and undrafted but are now playing an integral role in TB’s second-ever Super Bowl run. Now, the Zo Huddle dives into the Kansas City Chief defenders who had a similar trek.


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall

That Chiefs defense clearly carries an underdog state of mind.

The best and most veteran savvy defender is 5-foot-9. But helping comprise the rest of the unit – especially on a team that has mostly been identified by explosive offenses – are defenders who once went undrafted or before entering the collegiate realm, were under-recruited by several universities especially in the Power-5 arena.

Three play in the secondary with Tyrann Mathieu, while one emerging pass rusher played FCS ball in Philadelphia. And while Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and company light up scoreboards, the defensive unit has quietly collected sacks and takeaways in their pursuit of back-to-back Vince Lombardi Trophies.

Now on to part two of this four-part series: the defenders on Kansas City who were either under-recruited, unranked, un-offered by several schools, undrafted, and now…are among the unsung cornerstones of the 2020-21 AFC champions:

Daniel Sorensen, free safety


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Deseret

How it started: Three-star by recruiting services but held one scholarship offer

Somewhere in the middle: Played at BYU and went undrafted

How it’s going: 356 career tackles (274 solo), 10 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns

“Dirty Dan” starred at Colton High in California’s Inland Empire before the era of Hudl and YouTube, making it difficult for him to be seen online by college coaches. But Brigham Young took in the Class of 2008 graduate known for his devastating hits.

After piling the tackles at BYU, Sorensen then didn’t hear his phone buzz between rounds one through seven in the 2012 NFL Draft. To further add to his future fuel, Sorensen was signed to the Chiefs’ practice squad.

But since then, he’s emerged as a hard-hitting enforcer opposite of Mathieu. And he has gone from undrafted to one of the Chiefs’ surest tacklers plus finished 2020 tied for second on the team in INT’s (three) with the next guy on this list…


L’Jarius Sneed, cornerback


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: USA Today

How it started: Three-star by 247Sports out of Mooringsport (La.)

Somewhere in the middle: Louisiana Tech

How it’s going: Tied for second in interceptions as a fourth-round draft selection who wasn’t even a starter at first

The rookie Sneed – only offered by La. Tech, Louisiana, and Arkansas State out of Minden High School – is looking like the biggest 2020 Draft Day steal for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Originally a safety, Sneed added CB to his draft profile toward the end of his college career in Ruston and ended his Bulldogs career landing Conference USA Second Team honors. He additionally had to overcome a broken clavicle to work his way into the KC secondary.

Now, in nine regular-season games, Sneed added an additional takeaway element to the KC secondary but has also been reliable as a blitzer – with an 8-yard sack on the CB blitz against Baker Mayfield and the 15-yard sack of Josh Allen in the playoff wins over Cleveland and Buffalo, respectively.

According to PFF analytics, Sneed has allowed a QB passer rating of 58.1 when opponents test his side. And how many touchdowns has Sneed surrendered? Just one, against future Hall of Famer Drew Brees of New Orleans.

Forget having the need for speed. Kansas City has had the “Need for Sneed.” The Chiefs have often thrown three CB’s on offenses with Sneed representing the third. He has formed a strong tandem with this other CB…


Charvarius Ward, cornerback


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Arrowhead Pride

How it started: Two-star prospect by recruiting services out of McComb (Miss.)

Somewhere in the middle: Played at Hinds Community College and Middle Tennessee State

How it’s going: Finished fifth on the Chiefs with 51 tackles (38 solo) and has surrendered 28 catches on 53 targets

Ward had to go the JUCO route in Mississippi before becoming an FBS recruit.

And his final season with the Blue Raiders saw zero interceptions. But he was mostly lauded for his ability to break up passes (14 in 2017) and special teams play.

Like Sorensen, Ward too went undrafted. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys on a free-agent deal, he was traded to the Chiefs during the 2018-19 season…which was also before KC’s march to the AFC Championship game versus a Tom Brady-led New England Patriots’ squad.

Ward has now solidified the CB unit with his coverage ability, eyes, and that same swatting ability he developed at Murfreesboro (Tenn.). Opposing QB’s have completed just 52.8% of their throws when targeting Ward.

Oh, he’ll meet Brady again. This time at Raymond James Stadium.


Tanoh Kpassagnon, defensive end


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: SB Nation

How it started: Unranked recruit from Ambler (Pa.) in the 2012 class

Somewhere in the middle: Villanova (only reported offer)

How it’s going: Second rounder who has played four seasons and has 72 career tackles (49 solo) and seven sacks

Kpassagnon was a three-sport star at Wissahickon High School in the rural town of Ambler, becoming a football, basketball, and shot put/discus standout.

Yet, nearby university Penn State (located 32 minutes away from Ambler) didn’t offer him a scholarship. Fellow nearby blue bloods the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia also didn’t look into the then 6-foot-6, 245-pounder.

Villanova saw something in him…and the rush end of Ugandan descent eventually transformed into a Preseason FCS All-American selection and future second-rounder. His imposing size and freakishly quick first step made him one of the hardest FCS defenders to game plan for…and had the traits to make him a high draft priority. He’s also one of only two former Wildcat players who won a Super Bowl, the other being renowned Villanova alum Howie Long.

Now at a towering 6-foot-7, 289-pounds, Kpassagnon has snatched 52 solo tackles and seven sacks in 61 games played. He also delivered two QB hits and one sack of Allen in the AFC title game.

Next week: Zo Huddle takes a glimpse at the T.B Buccaneer offensive players who were either unranked, under-recruited, undrafted but are now the unsung cornerstones of the Bucs’ pursuit to the Super Bowl LV title.

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @LJ_Reyna


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