Johnny Mundt thought his football career had ended.
It was a freak injury, someone rolling up on his knees late in Oregon’s season-opening win over UC Davis last September. Mundt had played well and had caught a 53-yard touchdown pass. But fate seemingly intervened and his future surely pointed him toward the family farm business in Modesto.
Eight months later, Mundt – the accomplished former tight end for Central Catholic – is one of 11 undrafted free agents signed by the Los Angeles Rams. He has a chance to make a living in the NFL.
“The 209 can wait,” he said with a laugh. “I’m excited to get to work.”
Mundt’s perseverance at Oregon has been rewarded.
His blocking skills over his first three seasons, during which he caught 23 passes in 15 games, were praised. His senior year fell into uncertainty after the injury, however, and all possibilities were in play.
4 Touchdown passes caught by Johnny Mundt at Oregon last season
A quick recovery and emerging young quarterback Justin Herbert resulted in Mundt’s personal comeback. The former Raider (6-foot-4, 231 pounds) flourished in his final eight games with the Ducks. His final numbers – 23 receptions for 334 yards and four touchdowns – caught the attention of NFL scouts.
His Pro Day at Oregon on March 16 kept his name alive on draft boards throughout the league. He hoped to be a seventh-round pick but, when that didn’t happen last week, was quickly acquired by the Rams.
“There is not a doubt in my mind I would have been drafted (if not for the injury),” Mundt said. “The injury actually helped in a way. I played at about 232, 10 pounds lighter than before.”
Mundt was used as a hybrid tight end-fullback-slot receiver, sometimes called an H-back. His blocking skills, combined with his blossoming pass-catching talent, was noted by the Rams.
“I was graded positively for three years at Oregon as a run-blocker,” he said. “I had a good connection with our quarterbacks (Dakota Prukop and the 6-6 Herbert) as a senior. “I expanded my skill-set. It worked out.”
The 209 can wait. I’m excited to get to work.
Mundt completed his degree in business and economics and trained in San Diego over the winter. It leads him to the Rams and the chance of a lifetime. His first step is the rookie three-day mini-camp next week.
“I knew I would get a shot somewhere,” he said. “For a while, I thought I was returning home. I got work elsewhere.”