One to Watch: Tight End Matt Farbotko

Sure, he's a football player from an Ivy League school instead of a Division I powerhouse team. And he wasn't drafted by an NFL team. But tight end Matt Farbotko qualifies as "one to watch" when the Colts open their training camp later this month. Find out why...

Undrafted free agents are always battling the odds, trying to find some way to get noticed amongst the 80 or more players who arrive at each NFL team's training camp. And when you're a player from an Ivy League school, like Harvard's Mark Farbotko, your new teammates are probably a bit confused. While they can't help but be impressed over your academic achievement, they are probably doubtful that you're going to survive training camp since you didn't come from a powerhouse Division I school.

But Farbotko's a really interesting player who bears watching as he strives to take advantage of an opportunity to play for the World Champion Indianapolis Colts this fall.

Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Farbotko and his family spent a couple of years in Mechanicsburg, PA before moving to Brookline, NH. Farbotko doesn't remember much about the other two locations since he arrived in Brookline just before he started kindegarten. But growing up in the New England town provided him with a solid foundation for his life and fond memories.

"Brookline is a real small town. When we moved there it was just starting to grow in population," Farbotko said. "Everyone in the town knows each other. I'd ride my bike down to the fishing hole to go fishing, played basketball with my friends, it was great growing up in New Hampshire."

With no organized football program easily accessible until he got to high school, Farbotko's sports focus was on basketball while he was growing up.

"I thought I was going to play in the NBA, that was my dream until I got to high school," he said. "I started playing football and felt I had more opportunities with football."

During his freshman year there were just 11 players on the team. He played quarterback, but moved to wide receiver and tight end as a sophomore. Then during his junior year he started playing defensive end and played all three positions through the rest of high school.

"I've always been active in sports," said the former football, track and basketball team captain.

The well-rounded athlete was more than just "active." He was a state champion in the 400-meter run, triple jump and 4x4 relay. And he even competed in the decathlon his senior year.

"I got to pole vault as part of the decathlon, which was the real reason I wanted to do it," he said. "It was a lot of fun."

Photo: David Silverman/
Farbotko played in state championships in both football and basketball his junior year. And while racking up all those athletic accomplishments, he was a member of the National Honor Society and was such a good student that he was pursued by a number of Ivy League schools.

"My parents have always been strong about academics with my sister and I," he said. "That's what would basically decide if I could participate in sports.

"I learned from them that it was important to do well academically to succeed and so that more doors would be open. I tried to apply the same mentality to both academics and sports."

After checking out most of the Ivy League schools, including Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton and Yale, Farbotko chose Harvard to continue his education and his football career.

"Harvard was a good fit for me. I grew up around Boston and loved Boston," he said. "I liked the the coaching staff and it ended up being close to home, which was nice. And they have a winning tradition there. Coach Murphy does an excellent job."

Farbotko started out as a defensive end, but began the switch to tight end during the spring workouts at the end of his sophomore year. He was an active participant on special teams during his junior year, but his stat sheet as a tight end was practically bare with just one catch to his credit by the end of the season.

"We had two senior tight ends who had already been playing -- one for three years and the other for his second year," he explained. "I was mostly used on three-tight end sets, I got to start one game as the second tight end. I was still trying to get a feel for the offense coming from the defensive side of the ball."

Although some stats sheets indicate he was a five-game starter his senior year, he was the number one tight end in all ten games that year. And he started playing some slot receiver as well. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end made 20 catches during his senior year for 270 yards and scored two touchdowns.

So why is Matt Farbotko, a tight end with really just one full year of college experience at his position "one to watch" in this year's training camp? subscribers will learn the answer to that question based on some additional information we learned about him during an exclusive interview that will be published here at on Friday. You'll find out when the Colts first started showing interest in him, the intriguing similarities between him and an existing tight end on the Colts roster who will be a free agent at the end of this season, another NFL authority who saw his potential well before the NFL Draft, and you'll even get some unique insight on Colts running back Clifton Dawson who was a teammate of Farbotko's at Harvard.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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