KANSAS CITY Mo. — Byron Pringle is a rarity in the NFL.
Not many can say that in their first full season, they are starting in the Super Bowl.
But not Pringle.
In fact, as far as evidence strongly suggests, Pringle, a starting gunner, is the first Chiefs’ special teams player from Kansas State to land a starting job in the Super Bowl in his initial NFL season.
“It’s pretty cool, when you think about it,” Pringle said Thursday.
The Chiefs prepare to clash with the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIV in Miami at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
“We just wanted to come together in the season as one,” Pringle said, “and we need to keep applying hard work.”
Pringle’s breakthrough outing came in the 2018 preseason finale for the Chiefs. He put up big numbers as a wideout and special-teams player in the game. The down side of it, for the ex-Kansas State wide receiver (2015-2017), was that the team fell one win shy of reaching its ultimate goal after losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium.
One year later, Pringle persevered through being cut and re-signed on a couple occasions during the 2019 training camp with the Chiefs. The icing on the cake proved to be the Chiefs’ return trip to the AFC title game and Arrowhead, where they hammered the Tennessee Titans to capture their first Super Bowl berth in one-half of a century (1969-70 season).
Unlike the previous season, Pringle was active on the 53-man roster the entire 2019 ledger.
“It’s a great thing,” he said. “Playing in the Super Bowl will definitely be an exciting thing, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Pringle said he never got down when he was cut in favor of fellow returner/gunner De’Anthony Thomas on a couple of occasions during training camp. Thomas was traded to the Baltimore Ravens later in the season, opening the door for Pringle to re-sign with the Chiefs and permanently nail down a starting job on special teams.
“I never doubted myself about getting cut or anything like that when I was on IR,” the soft-spoken Pringle said. “This was one chance, and I had to make the most of any opportunity.
“There isn’t anything to be nervous about. If there is any nervous energy, you don’t need to be here. It’s all the same at the end of the day.”
Pringle’s gateway to the NFL
Pringle’s ascension in the league started as a heavy-duty project.
But it encompassed far more than merely incorporating a full-scale workout program, featuring weight-training, route-running and pass-catching. There was far, far more incorporating of blocking schemes, etc.
The Tampa, Florida, native also is, coincidentally, playing in the Super Bowl in his home state.
Pringle was recruited to Kansas State by legendary head coach Bill Snyder, who noted his game-breaking speed and penchant to put up big numbers as a receiver.
During the 2016 and 2017 seasons at Kansas State, Pringle became the team leader for receiving yards during both years before foregoing his senior season to enter the 2018 draft. He went undrafted and signed with the Chiefs as a free agent.
His final college season, in 2017, Pringle led the team with 724 receiving yards on just 30 catches and six touchdowns. He finished third nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference in yards per reception, a mark that broke the school’s record.
His sophomore season, Pringle led K-State with 631 receiving yards on 39 catches, along with scoring four touchdowns.
Pringle finished his K-State career second in school history in career yards per reception (19.64) and No. 6 in both career kickoff average (27.6) and yards (107.6). He also is tied for fourth on the list with two career kickoff-return touchdowns.