MIAMI — Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel dreamed of playing in the NFL when they were teammates at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md. In their wildest dreams, perhaps they imagined playing in the Super Bowl.
Never did they expect to reach the pinnacle of the sport together.
“To be on the same team never crossed our minds,” said O’Daniel, a second-year player from Clemson. “How often does that ever happen?”
Yet here they are together, preparing to face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
A fourth-year player out of Virginia Tech, Fuller played his first two seasons for the Washington Redskins but was traded to the Chiefs in January 2018. Three months later, he was sitting at O’Daniel’s draft party when Kansas City selected his friend in the third round.
“I was like, ‘Oh wait, we’re on the same team,’” O’Daniel said. “It was dope because I FaceTimed the general manager and Kendall was with me.”
Fuller and O’Daniel have spent two seasons in the same NFL locker room, going up against players they either watched or looked up to in high school. Each moment they share on the field still feels like a dream.
“Most of the time after games, we just sit here and think about it,” Fuller said. “Like, ‘Damn, we are really here together.’”
Fuller and O’Daniel are like brothers, but their relationship wasn’t always so cozy. The two made the Good Counsel varsity team together as freshmen, but while O’Daniel had been attending summer practice sessions, Fuller joined the team just weeks before the start of the school year. When Fuller stepped onto the practice field for the first time, O’Daniel thought he was going to lose his spotlight.
“I felt some type of way because here I am thinking I’m that guy, then there’s another freshman playing varsity,” O’Daniel said. “I was like, ‘Am I good enough?’”
Once the season started, though, that mindset quickly faded away. Fuller and O’Daniel became a strong defensive duo that helped Good Counsel win four straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships.
“Going to a great program like Good Counsel, the target was on our back every week,” O’Daniel said. “That translated well for me because it taught me to bring my best foot forward and people are going to be gunning for you.”
At the Super Bowl, Fuller and O’Daniel will seek to capture the same feeling they had winning conference titles at Good Counsel.
“We got championships in high school and we are going to try to get a championship on Sunday together,” Fuller said.
Ryan McFadden is a student in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism master’s degree program. He is covering the Super Bowl as a representative of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.