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Tight ends gather in Nashville to learn from NFL’s best



FILE – San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs against the Houston Texans in the course of the first half of an NFL football game Jan. 2, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. Tight End U is back for a second straight yr in Nashville, Tenn., the offseason home of Kittle. Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler, began this a yr ago with seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and one other three-time Pro Bowl tight end in Greg Olsen, who’s now retired. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, File)


Tennessee tight end Chig Okonkwo has a very good reason to not be working with the remaining of the Titans’ rookies as they wrap up their offseason on the team headquarters.

Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash amongst tight ends earlier this yr on the NFL Mix, had somewhere higher to be.

Tight End University, the equivalent of a master class on the rookie’s position.

“It’s just so amazing to have the option to be here and do that …,” Okonkwo said Thursday. “And it’s just awesome. There’s like 80 of us out here. … And there’s so many Pro Bowl guys, so many big contract to the blokes. It’s just very nice to have the option to go on the market as a rookie in my first season.”

Going into his first NFL season, Okonkwo is attempting to be a sponge, absorbing every little thing he can, especially when seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks.

“He showed me something that I’ve never seen before,” Okonkwo said. “And I used to be like, ‘I believe I should probably start working on that because he’s really good, he’s the very best within the business.’ So just learning things like that, like having the ability to just take little tidbits like that from different guys.”

That was the entire reason for Tight End U — or TEU for brief.

A 3-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco, George Kittle already had been working with eight to 10 tight ends within the offseason after moving to Nashville five years ago. He talked with Kelce and three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen about expanding the group, and Olsen said to ask everybody.

They expected 20, with 50 in attendance last yr at the highschool where Kittle’s father, George, works as an assistant football coach for former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. The invite list grew a lot for this week’s camp that they had moved to Vanderbilt University and had not less than 85 tight ends in attendance.

Kelce, Kittle and Olsen also had to inform a bunch of young tight ends no.

“We’re still expanding and trying to search out room for everyone to have the option to come back out here because everybody sees what type of turnout it’s,” Kelce said. “And on top of that, to listen to the stories from the blokes which are coming through and what they’ve learned, we know the way unique of a situation it’s. We’re going to maintain attempting to make it greater and higher every yr.”

The tight ends spend camp working through problems like blocking 300-pound linemen to running routes against much faster players. They picked the brains of veterans like Olsen in a classroom before moving onto the sphere to hone the physical techniques to thrive in an NFL season.

Getting that many individuals together costs money.

TEU has Bridgestone, Charmin, Gatorade, Levi’s and Bud Light as sponsors. The tight ends also raised money again for the Boys and Girls Club. Dawson Knox of Buffalo winning the competition with Okonkwo second, and so they brought in greater than $131,000. Bridgestone brought that to $681,000 with an extra donation Thursday.

More TEU expansion is probably going in the long run. Kelce said they would love to usher in more tight ends, possibly tight end coaches and perhaps even college tight ends.

For now, everyone leaves having learned something, whether it is a latest release on a route, a blocking technique or something off tape.

“And everybody here is hungry and everybody here desires to be an amazing NFL tight end,” Kittle said. “And so once you put all that hunger together, it’s just big ol’ nasty beast, and that’s what a good end is.”


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