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Zack Kuntz, NFL Draft Tight End Prospect

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2023 7:31 pm

Zack Kuntz, NFL Draft Tight End Prospect

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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April 12, 2023 7:31 pm

Zack Kuntz joined Zach to discuss his journey to the NFL Draft and what he brings to a NFL team. 

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We continue this as Zach Guilbe show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio. Now joining us is an NFL draft prospect, played his college ball at Penn State and Old Dominion.

And he's six foot seven and could be a star tight end to the NFL. And that, of course, is Zach Koontz, who's kind enough to join us right now. Zach, appreciate you doing this. How are you?

Yeah, thanks for having me on. Appreciate it. I'm doing well.

Well, I saw the numbers at the combine of four, five, five, 40, a 40 inch vertical. So I'm assuming you're 100 percent healthy after that dislocated kneecap. Is that a fair assessment at this point? Yeah, I've been, you know, rehab. Everything is going really, really well.

Very happy with where I'm at and feeling great. But we all know transferring is now pretty common nature, especially in the NCAA. You go to Penn State, you transfer to Old Dominion, you reconnect with with rookie Ronnie, who, you know, well, two years ago had a really good season.

Unfortunately, got hit by the injury bug this year. There's one thing to handle that physically. And there's a lot of pain that goes through it.

But how do you handle it mentally? Yeah, you know, having a great sports system, obviously, here at Old Dominion, the athletic training staff did a tremendous job with me, as well as my position coach, head coach, you know, the whole coaching staff, you know, as a whole. Obviously, you know, my teammates were there for me, you know, whenever I would need them.

And obviously, you know, I have a great, you know, sports system back home, Pennsylvania with my family there. So many people talk about your potential. Let's say if I'm an NFL GM, and we're doing a meeting, and I'm thinking about drafting Zack Koontz, and I say, Zack, why should I draft you?

Well, what's the answer? You know, I'm a guy, you know, I'm a high production guy with, you know, very low maintenance. You know, you don't have to worry about me, you know, off the field or anything like that, you know, I'm always in the facility, doing everything I can to make sure, you know, my body's feeling great. And, you know, I'm prepared every time I step out on the field. I mean, I'll do anything, you know, it takes to, you know, add, add, you know, be productive to the offense, you know, and add value.

If you reach your full potential on the field, what does Zack Koontz look like as a football player in your mind? Yeah, you know, I think the sky's the limit for myself, you know, I'm very confident in my abilities as a player, you know, as a football player, you know, and being a professional. You know, I won't say, you know, I'm going to be, you know, this or that, you know, I can take things, you know, as they come, you know, one thing at a time and, you know, I'm excited for the, you know, the draft coming up to see where I'm going to, you know, be heading. And, you know, once I, once I kind of get that, you know, idea down, you know, go there and give it my all and, you know, and, you know, the rest kind of handle itself.

It's such a quick moving process and you have so much that gets put on your plate in a very short amount of time. When you hear that it's now two weeks away from the NFL draft, like, has it hit you yet that in two weeks, you're going to know where you're going to start your NFL journey? Yeah, you know, I'm excited for it. I don't know if it's, you know, necessarily, you know, really hit me yet, you know, I've still just been training, you know, just being, being my normal self, continuing with that process. You know, for me, I just feel like it's the next step in this journey. You know, it's a great milestone, something I'm extremely, you know, fortunate and grateful to, you know, be in the position that I am. You know, I've worked really hard for it and, you know, I'm going to continue that work, you know, and do what it takes to, you know, you know, play the game I love as long as possible.

Zach Kuntz here with us. I know that you come from a very athletic family. Your father played football, your brother played football. I believe your sister was a basketball player as well. Did you have pressure on you as a kid to kind of explore athletics or is it just something that you fell in love with because of it being available to you with the family background? Yeah, you know, having four older siblings, you know, they all played sports. So, I mean, all seasons, it's kind of, you know, going back and forth, you know, you got basketball, travel ball, you know, playing baseball, obviously football all around.

So, you know, I wouldn't say any pressure, it's just became, you know, it's just something that I, I've always grown up and known as a natural way of life, if you will. It was always, you know, oh, it's, you know, it's basketball season. I play basketball. I started, you know, dribbling around more often.

Oh, it's football season, you know, I'm in the football zone or, you know, track. I kind of started doing that. So, you know, it's always just been something, you know, that's very natural for me. I wouldn't say any pressure, you know, my older siblings, you know, they always keep me humbled. You know, playing in the backyard, you know, pick up, you know, football, pick up basketball, you know, tackling each other, being rough and stuff.

You know, it's, it's all been, you know, really great. And, you know, I wouldn't say it'd be any pressure, just, you know, all just motivation. Could you have played college basketball, just wondering? You know, I'm very confident in my ability that I, you know, would have been able to do that. I definitely, you know, could have devoted more time to it if I, you know, obviously we had went that route. You know, but I was, you know, pretty productive on, you know, on the court as well. I had a lot of fun doing it.

So, you know, extremely grateful for my time doing that. Well, you got offered by Penn State, so it's tough to say that you made the wrong decision. Your name's getting thrown all over the place for this upcoming NFL draft in a very loaded tight end class. What made you though say, okay, it's going to be football, football is what I'm going to pursue in college and also professionally? Yeah, you know, my freshman year, I mean, even eighth grade, I always, you know, I was kind of excelling at, you know, at all the sports I was doing. I was just, you know, you know, playing simple, pretty much a better athlete than, you know, the other people that, you know, we were kind of going against. I was bigger and faster and things of that nature. You know, freshman year, I was kind of feeling it out and, you know, the national recognition I got, you know, my freshman year, you know, was a lot. And, you know, I think it kind of, you know, fed into, you know, what I was able to do obviously on the football field and, you know, kind of hone that in, you know, with all my other sports as well. You know, and one of the biggest reasons I took up track was I knew it would make me a better football player, help me run faster, you know, obviously stay in shape. You know, it was kind of either baseball, you know, which, you know, my high school, you know, is a really great baseball team, you know, great tradition of, you know, baseball players there especially.

You know, I, frankly, I found it boring, you know, just kind of, well, you know, it wasn't my cup of tea, which, you know, which is fine. You needed the pitch clock. That's what you needed.

Pick up the pace of play. Yeah, maybe if that was in, you know, that was in, it'd be a different story. But, you know, playing before I either struck out or I hit a grand slam, like it was, it was no in between. So I was kind of like, yeah, I'll try track, see what that is.

And I had some water siblings that did it too. So, you know, I took that up, you know, it did really well. You know, I want to stay gold, you know, and track my junior year. Just casual. I love that you just casually throw that out there. Yeah, and I, I would have loved to have had my, you know, my senior would have followed it up.

I enrolled early to Penn State, so I didn't have a senior year for basketball or track. But, you know, had a really great time, you know, being able to do that. You know, I really, I'm glad that I did that. You know, going back, I still would be, you know, a three-sport athlete and, you know, doing that, being well-rounded. I think it's great meeting new people, try different things.

Zach Koons here with us. Who do you model your football game, your football career after? There are a few players that you grew up watching that you were like, okay, I try to do this, I try to take that from tight ends around the league. Yeah, I think, you know, when I was, you know, real young, you know, watching tight ends, I think it's different.

It's kind of transferring to, transitioning to a bit of a different position. You know, what you kind of see today, you see guys that, you know, like Travis Kelce that are, you know, you know, kid old guys like kind of revolutionizing the position. You know, I think it's such a great time to be a tight end and kind of what's asked of them. And, you know, that's one of the things I love about the position is being asked to, you know, be the best part of a wide receiver. You're an offensive lineman, you're a running back, you got to know everything that's going on. So, you know, you got to be a smart player as well. You know, seeing guys now, I've always watched, you know, Mike Kacicki, you know, big athletic guy that goes up and gets the ball. You know, Darren Waller, you know, you know, great, great guys on the field. You know, it's important, you know, it's important for me to be known, you know, and to really emulate, you know, that three phase, the three phases of the, you know, the tight end position, you know, the pass game, run block, pass protection. So, you know, those are all things, you know, take elements of different people's game. You know, watch them on YouTube or on the film, you know, old Jeremy Shockey, you know, Jimmy Graham, you know, guys dunking on the goalposts.

So, no, it was always cool kind of seeing those guys growing up. How's your gritty? We know Mike's gritty is horrible. Do you have a good gritty?

Yeah, I don't know if I'd be gritty out there, you know, quite yet. You know, Mike's got that for sure. But, you know, I'm sure by the, you know, next season, there will be another trend going on and everybody will be doing that.

So, you know, trends come and go. We'll see. First NFL touchdown. You got to dunk it on the goalposts, right? That's what you're going to do?

Yeah, I don't know what those fines are talking about in the NFL. Good point. We'll see where you get drafted and that will determine what the celebration could actually be, depending on that first contract. Yeah, we'll see.

Yeah, I'm sure there's some no-nonsense people out there that aren't having any bets. So, I think I'll just be in my P's and Q's, hand it to the official and go celebrate with my team. Just whatever you do, don't do the celebration where you fake like the hamstring injury because that gets me each and every time when someone fakes a hammy injury, I always fall for it. Yeah, no, I feel like that'd be bad juju, honestly, if I were to do that, something like that.

So, yeah, you're not going to be seeing that from me. When you take the field in the fall, what do you think is going to be going through your mind with the journey that you've been on, your family background as well, when you get ready for your first regular season NFL game? Yeah, you know, obviously different uniform, you know, different spot, you know, different teammates, things of that nature. But, you know, it's something I've done my entire life. You know, I love the game of football.

And, you know, it's given me so many great opportunities, obviously on the field, you know, off the field as well, building a lot of relationships. But, you know, it'd just be another game. Obviously, you know, there'd be, you know, you have those nerves. But, you know, nerves are good, you know.

It means, you know, you care, you know, it's kind of in that area. But, you know, you prepare well, you know, in the days leading up to the game, those nerves go away very quickly because, you know, at the end of the day, you're going out there and you're playing ball. Last thing I'll ask you, Zach Kuntz, everyone keeps on talking about your upside and your potential. With that, there's going to be people that are going to doubt you with the injuries, having to transfer from Penn State to Old Dominion.

What do you say to people that doubt Zach Kuntz having a successful NFL career? Yeah, you know, I think, you know, as many people that are out there that are going to build you up, there would be the same people that, you know, try and bring you down. You know, at times everybody has their favorite.

And, you know, if it's not your favorite, they'll find a way to, you know, manipulate it any way they can. You know, especially this year as a tight end class, I think there's a lot of great talent. You know, I think I proved with myself, you know, just from a raw athleticism standpoint, you know, that I, you know, I'm the most athletic guy that you kind of have. And, you know, it's not a, you know, a common thing to, you know, kind of have those kind of have those features and things that, you know, I'm able to do, you know, just from a raw athleticism standpoint.

But, you know, I think there's a lot of guys, you know, there's numerous examples. You can see someone who does something in college and, you know, there are different players, you know, once they get to the league. And, you know, I look at a guy like Tom Brady who, you know, he's not a first round draft pick.

He's the, you know, one of the greatest, if not the greatest quarterback of all time. So I think a lot of people try to, you know, label you as something, you know, earlier on, you know, I'm 23 years old, and, you know, you have guys playing there in their, you know, their 30s playing the game, you know, five, 10 years. The trend, you know, your game kind of transforms a little bit and you learn a lot and I think a lot of people don't necessarily put that into perspective, they think you are this year. You know, that's the type of player you are. But, you know, everybody's growing, everybody's learning, they're learning from different teammates, you know, they have different quarterbacks, they have different offensive schemes. So I think all those things kind of play a factor.

And a lot of times people want to label you as one thing or another and just keep you as that and not want to really change your perspective on that. You know, it's a changing, fast changing game, you know, you see a lot of, you know, different, you know, at least from the offensive side of the ball, a lot of people, you know, coordinators trying some different things and, you know, different players in different positions, you know, different spots. So I think of myself as someone who can play, you know, any, any position on offense, you can line me up anywhere on the field, and I'm going to get the job done at a high level.

And, you know, I'm excited to, you know, be able to showcase that on Sundays. You don't just become quick overnight or can jump really high overnight, but with all that being said, did the 4-5-5-40 and the 40 inch vertical at all surprise you? You knew that that was something you were expecting to do?

No, not a surprise to me. I know it's something, you know, I've obviously always been capable of doing. Obviously coming off, you know, my surgery and everything, I was really only running for probably four or five weeks full speed before I even had the combine. I truly believe if I'd had, you know, an entire, like the whole entire draft process or, you know, pre-combine process, you know, like training wise, probably even could have done a little bit better. Maybe even run a little bit faster and, you know, jump, maybe jump a little higher, things like that.

But, you know, at a point, it's just kind of splitting hairs. If you run, you know, you're fast, you're fast. And, you know, obviously, you know, teams know that now, especially for me. But, you know, I think it was important to be able to show that, like, yeah, I'm long, I'm tall and people, you know, kind of like you said, there'll be a lot of people that are like, oh, he's not fast, he's just, you know, long strides or things like that. Oh, he's not jumping high. But, you know, being, you know, being like 6'8 and being able to jump as high as I can, you can put the ball 12 feet in the air and I'm going to go get it.

You know, I can't, I don't care if a DB has a 40 inch vertical, he's not reaching up where I am. Well, hey, great answer. Love the conversation today. Good luck in the next two weeks. We're excited to see where you're going to land. Thanks so much for doing this. Yep. Appreciate it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-12 20:27:55 / 2023-04-12 20:35:40 / 8

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