The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers have rosters full of stars who will be the center of attention at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday. There's Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose arm is redefining the game, or Jimmy Garoppolo, the former Tom Brady protégé who has helped take the Niners to a new level.

But one player you may have not heard of, but should be looking out for in the big game? That's San Francisco fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

The four-time Pro Bowler may be the best player at his position in the NFL. His speed and athleticism help to stretch the field open for the ground game while remaining a threat down the field as a receiver.

He's an unsung hero of the 49ers' powerful offense — and only the fifth Harvard alum to play in football's biggest game. If San Francisco wins, he'll be the third former Harvard player to become an NFL champion, joining John Dockery, who won Super Bowl III with the New York Jets, and Matt Birk, who got a ring with the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy remembers Juszczyk — pronounced "YOOZ-check" — had early flashes of the ability he now showcases on Sundays as a high schooler in Ohio.

"He played quarterback in high school, but really couldn't throw the ball particularly well," Murphy said with a chuckle. "So a lot of people had a hard time figuring out where to fit him in the recruiting class. I thought he was the perfect fit for our type of tight end/h-back."

Murphy explained that the Crimson's system uses these players all over the field, whether that's down on the line as a tight end, in the backfield as a fullback, or out as a wide receiver.

Juszczyk thrived in this role, leaving Harvard in 2013 as a two-time All-American, a three-time All-Ivy League selection and the school's all-time leader at tight end in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

"The feedback I got from NFL scouts his senior year was, his ability to be so versatile in our system, I thought, made them aware that this is a kid [who] had a chance to play in the NFL," Murphy said.

That ability to be a jack-of-all-trades has made him invaluable to San Francisco, who signed Juszczyk in 2017 after he spent four seasons with the Ravens after being a fourth-round draft choice. The 49ers use Juszczyk much like the Crimson did. Although he's officially listed as a fullback, who mainly function as battering rams to open up lanes for running backs, he lines up in multiple spots in Head Coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. That makes it difficult for defenses to plan for him.

For Murphy, Juszczyk's skill set doesn't fit neatly into a single box.

"I think to say that Kyle is a fullback (does) not really (recognize) what he really does," he said. "He's more of an h-back for them — what we call an h-back in our system, a hybrid. And he plays multiple positions. So I see him as playing almost the exact same position that he played at Harvard now with the 49ers."

And while the fullback position may be dying at the pro level as teams turn to more pass-heavy offenses, Juszczyk is thriving. On Sunday, he will become one of only 26 Ivy League alums to appear in a Super Bowl.

"If you're good enough and if you're someone that has those professional aspirations, [professional sports] still is an avenue that's open to you as an Ivy League student-athlete," said Sam Knehans, an assistant executive director of the Ivy League. "So that's something that we pride ourselves on in every sport, but especially in football with our Ivies in the NFL."

Knehans said in the 2019 season, there were 26 Ivy League NFL players. Among those are players with names you may recognize, like Ryan Fitzpatrick, a former Harvard quarterback who led the Miami Dolphins to a Week 17 upset of the New England Patriots, or James Develin, the Patriots fullback who went to Brown University.

In fact, there will be two Ivy League players in the Super Bowl this year — John Lovett, a Princeton University grad and fullback, is on Kansas City's injured reserve list.

"We actually have people in the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball," Murphy said about Harvard athletics. "And even though it's not vast numbers, A, we're proud of that, B, I think it shows the diversity of the college, and [C], it might be the last thing that people would expect."

One of those former Harvard students who is now in the big leagues is Cameron Brate, a tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who played alongside Juszczyk for the Crimson for two seasons on varsity.

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers in September 2019.
Julio Aguilar Getty Images

He said there are currently five Harvard tight ends, including himself, who are in the NFL — leading them to nickname the school "Tight End U."

That lists consists of Juszczyk, Brate, Anthony Firkser, who plays for the Tennessee Titans and had a big role in that team's playoff run, Ben Braunecker of the Chicago Bears, and Tyler Ott, who plays long snapper for the Seattle Seahawks.

"Kyle kind of paved the way for all of us that followed," Brate said. "He was such a stud in college. You know, he got drafted in the fourth round from the Ivy League, which is, as a skill position player, pretty much unheard of... He was, I mean, dominant by the time he was a senior. Pretty much if you got him the ball in space, no one could tackle him."

Brate, who graduated in 2014, and Juszczyk grew close and still keep up. They'll text each other to congratulate one another on big plays, and post pictures together on Instagram when their teams meet. And although he's a Buc now, Brate said, he'll be cheering for his former teammate's current squad.

"I know he's checked off a lot of boxes for his career goals already, but I know this is a big one for him and I know he's gonna do great," he said. "Yeah, I'm pulling for the Niners for him, so hopefully they win on Sunday."

The same is true for Murphy and the current Harvard team, who will have a Super Bowl party on campus.

"There will be a lot of 49er fans at this event," he said.

A Harvard alum isn't someone you would necessarily think to see in the Super Bowl. But this Sunday, as one of their own takes the field in Miami, there may be a lot of the Crimson bleeding San Francisco scarlet and gold for at least one game.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct year Cameron Brate graduated from Harvard, 2014.