PHOENIX — Kansas City tight end Jody Fortson, who played at Valdosta State, started in the AFC Championship game for the Chiefs.
After winning a Division II national championship at Valdosta State, Fortson finds himself on the brink of winning a Super Bowl title. The Chiefs (16-3) are set to face the Eagles (16-3) in Super Bowl LVII at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Fortson, the blocking tight end opposite of the dynamic Travis Kelce, played 14 snaps in the Chiefs’ 23-20 win over the Bengals in the AFC title game. He played 184 offensive snaps during the regular season and 181 special-teams snaps.
Fortson, 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, was not drafted. He made the most of a tryout after the 2019 draft. While converting from being a wide receiver in college to a NFL tight end, he spent time on the practice squad before making it to the active roster in 2021.
Fortson, who’s from Buffalo, New York, played in five games in 2021. He played in 13 games and made a start in the 2022 season.
He caught nine of 13 targets for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
“So, when I was coming out of Buffalo, I went to South Park High School,” Fortson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Out of there, I went to junior college up in Albany, New York. It was called Hudson Valley. My mom got into a little bit of an accident, dislocated her hip, and that forced me to move back to Buffalo and go to Erie Community College.”
Fortson played two seasons at Erie and parlayed that time into an opportunity at Valdosta State.
“I ended up there because that’s where God wanted me to be,” Fortson said. “I was away from home. I was able to grow. I was able to see a different perspective of life. I was able to stand on my 10 (toes).”
The Blazers won the national championship after the 2018 season. Fortson ended his career with 37 catches for 477 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I love Valdosta,” Fortson said. “I went down there, and they took me in and treated me like family immediately.”
Fortson is in Kansas City, which is known for its barbecue, but he misses Big Nick’s in Valdosta.
“Valdosta, just an incredible experience,” Fortson said. “I loved being down (there). Very friendly and family-oriented. Nice college town. I was able to go down there and remained focused. I had a great coaching staff down there, too. They allowed us to stay locked-in and focused on what we wanted, and that was a national championship.”
Fortson caught the attention of the Chiefs and has made it up the hard side of the NFL mountain.
“I know there is more work to be done,” Fortson said. “I know that where I started doesn’t define me. It’s where I’m going to end up at. I’m just relentless and have a mindset to continue to push to be the best that I can possibly be. That’s what is going to continue to motivate me because at the end of the day, I know why I play this game.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com