If you didn't believe our hype about the talent and importance of Stanford's tight ends for the 2003 football season, then we offer you some independent validation. Yesterday both Brett Pierce (6'6" 262# redshirt senior) and Alex Smith (6'5" 255# redshirt junior) were named to the prestigious 22-man watch list for the 2003 John Mackey Award by the Nassau County Sports Commission (NCSC). The Mackey Award is handed out each year to the nation's top tight end, and will be named in December. Stanford is one of only two schools in the country to boast two nominees on this watch list, with Texas also landing a pair of upperclassmen.
Smith enjoyed a standout and breakout season in the fall of 2002. He finished the year second on the team with 30 receptions, totaling 380 yards and two touchdowns. His career game came in October against Arizona when he mauled the Mildcats for 120 yards and one score on eight catches. And scary though it may seem, he has gotten bigger, stronger and quicker in the off-season. This recognition is richly deserved, but also greatly appreciated by the fourth-year Cardinal. "I think it's terrific," Smith says of the Mackey Award news. "I'm truly honored and this is something now I have to live up to. It makes you work even harder with this kind of expectation. And it's also great to know that everybody's eyes will be on you like this."
Brett Pierce had the polar opposite fortunes in 2002, suffering an ACL injury on the artificial turf of Boston College in the first first quarter of the first game of the season. It was a crushing blow not only to the Vancouver (WA) native, who had an incredible spring and off-season leading up to that September, but also to the team. It is a testament to Pierce's abilities that he is named to this list without recording a single reception, and taking just a scant few snaps a year ago. The rising fifth-year senior has caught 26 balls for 299 yards and three scores in his injury-curtailed career.
Position mate Smith is excited that both could receive this honor, and what it means for tight ends in 2003. "It's not very often - probably never happened before - that you get two Stanford tight ends with consideration like that," Smith comments. "Brett and I work really hard and it's nice that we're finally getting recognition."
When asked the question if this kind of preseason hoopla might fuel some friendly intrasquad rivalry between the two standout tight ends, Smith quickly replies that they are all business and have their sights set on something completely different. "We're much more worried about getting this football team back to a bowl game than anything individual at all," he proclaims.
|2003 JOHN MACKEY AWARD WATCH LIST|
|Bobby Blizzard||SR||North Carolina|
|Chris Cooley||SR||Utah State|
|Joel Dreessen||JR||Colorado St.|
|Tim Euhus||SR||Oregon State|
|Eric Knott||JR||Michigan St.|
|Duncan Reid||JR||Fresno State|
|Kellen Winslow||JR||Miami (FL)|
|Kevin Zureki||SR||E. Michigan|
The 2002 Mackey Award winner, Dallas Clark (Iowa), was selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Mike Seidman (UCLA), a finalist, was selected in the third round by the Carolina Panthers while fellow finalist Kellen Winslow, Jr. is a junior at Miami this fall.
The John Mackey Award was created by the NCSC under the guidance of board member Don McPherson, a Nassau County native and former NFL and Syracuse University All-America quarterback. Mackey, also a Nassau County native, is regarded as one of the best athletes to have played the position of tight end. In addition to being an NFL Hall of Famer, he is a Super Bowl winner (Baltimore, Super Bowl V) and was the first President of the NFLPA.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!