Tight ends congregate in Nashville to learn from the best in the NFL
AP — NASHVILLE, Tenn. Chig Okonkwo, a tight end with the Tennessee Titans, has a very good reason for not working out with the other rookies at the team’s facility as the offseason comes to a close.
Okonkwo, the rookie tight end who set the NFL Combine record for the quickest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year, had better things to do.
The academe for rookie tight ends is called Tight End University.
Okonkwo remarked on Thursday, “It’s just so great to be able to be here and accomplish this. “And it’s simply fantastic. There are maybe 80 of us here. And there are a ton of Pro Bowl players that have lucrative contracts. Being able to play as a rookie in my first season is just incredibly amazing.
As he prepares for his first NFL season, Okonkwo is trying to soak up all the knowledge he can, especially when Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, speaks.
Okonkwo remarked, “He showed me something that I’ve never seen before.” And I thought, “I definitely should start working on that because he’s incredibly talented, he’s the best in the business. So just picking up tiny pieces like that from different folks and learning things like that.
That was the main motivation behind Tight End U, or TEU.
After relocating to Nashville five years ago, George Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco, had already been working with eight to ten tight ends in the offseason. Greg Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowler, advised inviting everyone when he discussed enlarging the group with Kelce.
They expected 20, with 50 in attendance last year at the high school where Kittle’s father, George, works as an assistant football coach for former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. At least 85 tight ends attended this week’s camp, which was moved to Vanderbilt University due to the lengthening of the invite list.
Kelce, Kittle and Olsen also had to tell a bunch of young tight ends no.
Because of the large turnout, Kelce added, “We’re still growing and trying to find space for everyone to be able to come out here.” “And on top of that, to hear the tales from the men who are passing through and what they’ve learned, we know what a unique situation it is. Every year, we’ll keep working to make it larger and better.
During camp, the tight ends practice running routes against players who are considerably faster than them and blocking 300-pound linemen. They picked the brains of veterans like Olsen in a classroom before moving onto the field to hone the physical techniques to thrive in an NFL season.
It requires money to gather that many individuals.
TEU is sponsored by Bridgestone, Charmin, Gatorade, Levi’s, and Bud Light. The tight ends once more helped the Boys and Girls Club by raising money. Dawson Knox of Buffalo winning the competition with Okonkwo second, and they brought in more than $131,000. With an additional gift on Thursday, Bridgestone raised that to $681,000.
More TEU expansion is likely in the future. Kelce said they would like to bring in more tight ends, possibly tight end coaches and maybe even college tight ends.
For now, everyone leaves having learned something, whether it’s a new release on a route, a blocking technique or something off tape.
“And everyone here is hungry and everybody here wants to be a great NFL tight end,” Kittle said. “And so when you put all that hunger together, it’s just big ol’ nasty beast, and that’s what a tight end is.”
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