Modesto Christian grad Sudfeld agrees with Pats

Will join crowded tight end field in New England

bvanderbeek@modbee.comMay 4, 2013 

    alternate textBrian VanderBeek
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports, including preps, colleges and the Modesto Nuts
    Bio: Brian VanderBeek joined The Bee in 1996 after previously working at The Home News-Tribune and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, the (Dover) Delaware State News and the Hanford Sentinel. He is a graduate of Ripon High, Modesto Junior College and holds a degree in journalism from Fresno State.
    Recent stories written by Brian
    On Twitter: @modestobeek

The three days and seven rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft came and went without Zach Sudfeld's name being called, but the Modesto Christian High School graduate has found a home.

Within minutes of the final pick, Sudfeld — who emerged as a prospect during his senior season at the University of Nevada — came to an agreement on a free agent deal with the New England Patriots. Terms were not disclosed.

"The paperwork is signed and I just faxed it over," said Sudfeld, who caught 45 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns for the Wolfpack last season. "It's a good situation for me. You would have hoped to get drafted, but I'm excited."

As Sudfeld expected, his brothers forced him into watching the draft. Twin brother Matt, who played football at Brown, and little brother Nate, a quarterback at Indiana, set up a draft war room at the family home in Scotts Valley.

All that did was force Sudfeld to sit and watch as the NFL teams selected 254 players, including 16 tight ends.

"It was stressful," Sudfeld said. "You know the teams you talked to. And it was difficult to watch all those tight ends get taken because as a competitor you think you have more to offer.

"At the end of the day, whether you're drafted or not, you still have to perform once you get to camp."

As a free agent, Sudfeld was free to negotiate with all NFL teams to find a situation that offered him the best shot at making a roster.

At first glance, the Patriots would not appear to be a team in need of a tight end.

New England did not draft a tight end but has five on the roster, including budding star Rob Gronkowski, who had 55 receptions last season while battling a recurring forearm injury that to date has required four surgeries.

Behind Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Daniel Fells combined for another 55 receptions. In addition, the Patriots have Jake Ballard, who caught 38 passes for the New York Giants in 2011 before suffering a knee injury that cost him the 2012 season.

"They are loaded at tight end, but the Patriots' tight ends coach worked me out and we've stayed in contact," Sudfeld said. "It's a good spot for me to go into and to be able to compete for a spot. The goal is to make the 53-man roster and I think I have a shot."

With the faxing of the contract, the ordeal of the draft process has ended. Now, the journey through the real unknown starts for Sudfeld.

"I'll be flying to Boston at the end of the week for rookie camp," he said. "This has been such a crazy process.

"This morning I woke up and had no idea what the day was going to hold for me, and right now I'm thinking about getting ready to join one of the greatest organizations in the NFL."

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

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