Strong out to Impress the Raiders

Former Pittsburgh tight end Darrell Strong did not get drafted last weekend, but that did not get him down. Strong chose to sign with the Oakland Raiders and he feels like he can make an early impact.

Darrell Strong is going from one Oakland to another.

The former University of Pittsburgh tight end signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders this week. Raiders' minicamp begins on May 8.

"I thought it was the best fit for me," said the 6-4, 268 pound Strong. "I had a formal interview with them at the combine and after meeting with their head coach and Al Davis it was the most comfortable fit."

Raiders owner Al Davis! What was he like?

"He was the quiet one. He was just sitting back and observing in the 15 minutes I had with them."

Nevertheless, a connection was made, and the Raiders, along with the Green Bay Packers, called Strong in the seventh round to express interest.

Cleveland, Houston, and the New York Jets also contacted Strong after the draft, but the former quarterback knew where he wanted to play.

"I don't even know what anyone else offered (financially). I just liked Oakland," Strong said.

"Coach Kelly Skipper, the tight ends coach, and I sat down at the combine. I really think I can help in the passing game a lot with my speed and size."

Strong runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.

At Pitt, he saw extensive action in every one of his four seasons, finishing with 64 career receptions for 783 yards (12.2 avg.) and 7 touchdowns despite originally signing with the Panthers to play quarterback.

Strong sees himself excelling with current Raiders tight end Zach Miller in two tight end sets and maybe, just maybe, throwing an option pass.

Along with Pitt's Fiesta Bowl appearance in his freshman season and beating West Virginia during his senior campaign, Strong's most cherished memories on the gridiron at Pitt are his two touchdown passes.

Though he admits he accepted his move to tight end after his sophomore season, in 2006 Strong connected with LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 30-yard touchdown against The Citadel and last year he threw a 27-yard scoring strike to LeShawn McCoy against Louisville.

"Every time I threw a pass in college it went for a touchdown. That's definitely a streak I want to keep up!"

Strong is only 16 credits short of graduation, but actually juggled his class schedule during his junior year so he could graduate by taking his final courses online.

He hopes to complete his administrative justice and legal studies major next summer with an eye on becoming a United States Marshall after his playing days are over.


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