Ortega Making Tough Catches

Senior tight end Buck Ortega is excited about the upcoming season. Ortega, who was recruited as a quarterback, has played a number of positions during his tenure at Miami.

This spring Buck Ortega has made a number of catches. He is a veteran who provides steady leadership to the position and is working hard to be a key contributor in 2005.

Last year, Ortega finished the season as Miami's number one tight end after Kevin Everett and Greg Olson both went down with injuries. This year, Ortega is competing for the number one spot at tight end, but will have some serious competition from Olsen.

"There's competition between all three of us. There has to be, that's what makes everyone at the position better," he said. "We compete everyday."

The three Ortega was referring to beside himself and Olson was redshirt freshman Chris Zellner. Zellner was a former defensive end out of Sarasota before the coaches at Miami tried him at the tight end position. Ortega has taken the newcomer under his wing offering Zellner some tips at the new position.

"He's doing awesome. He's such a strong kid," Ortega said. "He can do everything. He can run, he's quick, he's got power, and he can run block. He's got everything."

Ortega credits Zellner's fast learning curve to the fact he works in such a small, selective group with Olson and himself.

"Every time he has a question, we're there to help," Ortega said. "Most of it has to do with learning plays, footwork, things that come with a new position. I try to teach him based on experience like what to look for from linebackers and how to react to it, things like that."

Ortega says he is where he wants to be physically, but there is always room for improvement on the mental side. He is trying to limit his mistakes and make sure he is where he has to be on every play.

"We're working on our offensive strategy for the tight ends and trying to put it in the offense as smoothly as we can. I feel alright right now as we'll see what happens when the season starts."

Ortega saw playing time in all 12 games of the Hurricane's season last year culminating in a start for Miami at the Peach Bowl. For the season, Ortega caught eight passes for 82 yards and was a force on special teams.

His 6-5, 224 pound frame provides a nice target for either quarterback. Ortega ended his season last year playing extensively in the last three games of the season. He hopes that success and experience will carry over into this upcoming season.

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