Former Modesto Christian star Sudfeld looking forward to NFL Draft

bvanderbeek@modbee.comApril 24, 2013 

If it were up to Zach Sudfeld, he'd be on a golf course somewhere the next two days instead of watching the NFL Draft.

It's not for a lack of interest.

The Modesto Christian High School graduate and University of Nevada tight end has a shot at hearing his name called this weekend, having his football future determined by men in sport coats 3,000 miles away.

Meanwhile, Sudfeld will be with family in Scotts Valley. His twin Matt, who played football at Brown, will be in town, as will little brother Nate, who played quarterback in seven games last season as a freshman at Indiana.

"It's nice for me because both brothers understand the whole process," Sudfeld said. "It makes that part of it a lot easier, but they're such fans that they'll be watching it anyway. I'll want to go play golf, but I don't think I'll have the say on what we do."

Right now, Sudfeld has lots of options, and he has taken advantage of every situation possible to keep those doors open.

When injuries kept him off the field at Nevada for most of his college career, he kept training and earned his business degree. Then he petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, and used that to earn his MBA as well as emerge as an NFL prospect.

In his senior season at Nevada, Sudfeld caught 45 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6 feet, 7 inches and 255 pounds, he was a big target and an accomplished blocker in a system that asks its tight ends to be mobile and versatile.

It was by all accounts a breakout season, one that put Sudfeld on draft boards and made him a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which goes to college football's top tight end. But for some reason, it didn't earn him an invitation to the NFL Combine.

"I was definitely disappointed by that," Sudfeld said. "I really had only one productive season, so after being a semifinalist for the Mackey Award I was hoping that would give me a chance to go to the combine.

"I wanted to show how I could catch this ball side by side with the other guys, but for whatever reason I didn't get invited and I use that as motivation."

Sudfeld's draft prospects appear to be wide open. He's slotted among the top 15 tight ends in the draft on most rating charts, with projected draft positions varying from the fourth to seventh rounds, to free agency.

There are different thoughts as to being taken in the seventh round as opposed to being an undrafted free agent. If you're drafted, you cast your lot with that team no matter their depth needs at your position. If you're a free agent, you get to shop around for the situation that offers you the best chance to make a roster.

"Once you get to the seventh round its almost better to pick where you want to go," Sudfeld said. "But your lifelong dream is to hear your name called, and I think I'd still rather hear my name called in the draft, even if being a free agent means a little bigger signing bonus and the chance to choose a team."

It's never positive for any player to talk about the team of his dreams, but there is a certain friend and former Nevada teammate playing quarterback for the 49ers.

"It would be cool to catch passes from Kap," Sudfeld said. "But I just want to go somewhere. Any team that brings me in will see my potential and hopefully like what I can bring.

"Obviously it would be pretty incredible to play with Kap, but it would be incredible to play anywhere in the NFL."

Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek

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