In the incoming days, college football players across the countries will receive a call from a NFL team that will change their lives forever. Only 253 of those calls guarantee a chance to make the 53 man roster out of training camp.
A Duquesne University football player hasn’t been taken in the NFL Draft since 1951 when the New York Yanks selected Ralph Longmore in the 19th round. Though he won’t break that streak this coming week, former Duquesne linebacker Christian Kuntz still expects to hear from a team at some point this weekend.
Kuntz is one of more than thousands players who will sign as an undrafted free agents once the final pick is made in the draft Saturday. After a stellar career on The Bluff, the latest Chartiers Valley Colt to test the NFL waters will be an intriguing prospect for many teams. The linebacker racked up 71.5 tackles for loss including a school and NEC record 30.5 sacks in 45 career games. His play on the field earned him NEC Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team Associated Press All-American in his last two seasons after returning from a knee injury.
Though he primarily played as an outside and rush linebacker at Duquesne, few NFL teams are looking for undersized players at that position like Kuntz, who weighed under 230 lbs for his entire college career. To make it at the professional level, he will be forced to kick inside to middle linebacker or mike linebacker in 4/3 defense.
No matter where he plays on defense, Kuntz is ready to prove the critics wrong that he can make it in the NFL.
“There’s always doubt that you’re too small, you’re not fast enough, you don’t jump high enough,” Kuntz said. “It puts that chip on your shoulder to prove some people wrong. That’s how I walked into Duquesne as a freshmen and that’s how I am going to be at the next level too. I’m just eager to find out what’s going on, where I’m going and go prove people wrong after that.”
Kuntz’s preparation for the draft began immediately after Duquesne finished their 2016 season. For on-field training he worked with former Steelers safety Tyrone Carter, who runs TC Elite Training in Minneapolis. According to Kuntz, his positional work with Carter was not just limited to linebacker but he worked at defensive back and on special teams including long snapping. For his Pro Day drills, Kuntz spent two and half month in Detroit with speed and strength Jim Kielbaso, who has worked with many prospects in the past.
Unlike bigger schools, Duquesne holds their Pro Day outside at Rooney field, which usually means frigid conditions for the players. On March 22 Along with 12 of his teammates, Kuntz battled through the elements as scouts from 18 different NFL teams looked on. When stacked up against other linebackers who participated in the NFL combine, the Pittsburgh native ranks middle of the pack in most of the drills except one, the bench press. Kuntz’s 24 reps at 225 would have tied him for 3rd amongst linebackers at the combine.
— NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated (@NFLDraftBible) April 8, 2017
Though a lot of time and effort is spent focused on getting ready for these drills, the intangibles a prospect brings to the table is what truly matters to the NFL teams in this process. For Kuntz, the answer to what he brings to a NFL roster is simple.
“Definitely my positive energy and relentless motor, Kuntz said. “Just coming into the locker room and on the field I feel like just how I keep going and show people how hard I work and how I really get after it that it just elevates everyone else’s game.”
If Kuntz impresses in his rookie minicamp, he could join his former teammates Dan Buchholz and Chris King as the latest Duquesne players to participate in a NFL Training Camp. Though the odds are stacked against him, don’t be surprised if this dynamic linebacker turns a few heads wherever he ends up.