Why were the Steelers taking a tight end who had only played the position for a limited time in college? Why where they taking a player who couldn't start for the worst Penn State team in 75 years? Why were they taking a tight end, who, as a former wide receiver, was considered a poor blocker?
Valid questions all. But the Steelers saw something in
Kranchick that apparently Joe Paterno and staff didn't. They saw
a 6-7, 270-pound player who had a rare combination of size and
speed, capable of stretching the middle of the field.
"I think he ran a 4.6 (40-yard dash)," said Steelers offensive
coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, himself a former NFL tight end.
"There is no question for a guy his size, he has very good speed
and very good hands. He was a receiver, so he does have some
skills, especially catching the ball. If the ball is in the air, he
go get it.
"The question with him is blocking. That is something we have to
teach him. . He is definitely an interesting prospect."
Kranchick knows it is his speed that got him into the NFL. And
he knows he has to work on his blocking. But he also feels he
can make plays if given the opportunity.
"They had a program at the Blue-White game and they had the
20 longest plays of the year and I had nine of them," Kranchick
said. "I think people realized I made things happen when I get in
there and I am excited to do it at the next level."
Even though he couldn't get into the Nittany Lions' starting lineup
more than two times in his senior season, Kranchick certainly
caught the attention of opposing coaches. After a four-catch,
136-yard game against Wisconsin that included a 73-yard
touchdown catch - Penn State's longest play in four years -
Badgers coach Barry Alvarez admitted, "We couldn't match up.
He's a nice player. The safety should be able to run as fast as
the tight end, normally."
Now, about that blocking. That is something the Steelers feel will
come with time. Kranchack is, after all, still growing into his
He was 6-2, 150 pounds as a junior in high school before hitting
a four-inch growth spurt by his senior year. By the time he
showed up at Penn State as a freshman, he was a 6-6,
180-pound beanpole the team really didn't know what to do with.
He worked with the receivers, but as his body continued to
mature, it became obvious, he was not the next Harold
Carmichael and instead his future would be at tight end.
Kranchack worked hard in the weight room to put on an addition
40 pounds before his senior season.
"It's all about technique and learning from the right people,"
Kranchick said of blocking. "I am sure the Steelers have those
types of people and I can't wait to play for them."
Kranchick joins a Steelers roster that has an opening at tight
end following the release of Mark Bruener.
Veteran Jay Riemersma returns for a second season after a
disappointing injury-riddled first year with the team, one that left
Jerame Tuman as a starter once again. Veteran Matt Cushing
always seems to hang around, but if the Steelers don't feel they
can hide Kranchick on their practice squad - where he could be
signed away by any team that keeps him on its active roster -
Cushing could be gone.
"He is an inexperienced guy as a tight end," said Whisenhunt.
"But he is a big guy who can run. He is really somebody that
hopefully can grow into the position."
Kranchick has speed to burn
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