Blizzard more than just an ice cream treat

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Even if he doesn't catch on with the Steelers this year, tight end Bobby Blizzard will be a player who should forever have a place in team lore. <br><br> On the first day of the team's 2004 minicamp, Blizzard came off the line of scrimmage and burst out into the right flats, catching a pass in front of safety Troy Polamalu that nearly knocked the air out of him.

The quarterback? Ben Roethlisberger.

Blizzard was the recipient of the first completed pass by Roethlisberger, the team's first-round draft pick and franchise quarterback of the future, as a member of the Steelers, something that got the undrafted rookie free agent at least a passing mention in most stories the following day.

"I really didn't give that much thought," the soft-spoken Blizzard said. "I'm just trying to prove that I belong here."

The 6-4, 265-pound Blizzard sure looked as if he belonged during the three-day camp, catching everything thrown his way. On a team looking for help at tight end behind veterans Jay Riemersma and Jerame Tuman, Blizzard, sixth-round draft pick Matt Kranchick and veteran Matt Cushing will be battling for a roster spot.

"I feel like there's an opportunity here," said Blizzard, who was rated higher than Kranchick by most draft services.

Blizzard's career has been all about making the most out of opportunities.

Though he played his final two collegiate seasons at North Carolina, he began it at Kentucky, starting several games as a true freshman. Though he went to Kentucky as a 230-pound tight end, he was agile and fast enough that the Wildcats' coaching staff inserted him into the lineup at wide receiver.

But after catching 30 passes for 275 yards in 21 games for the Wildcats, Blizzard was faced with a decision. Kentucky was being placed on probation for recruiting violations and was going through a coaching change. Blizzard decided his best move would be to transfer, picking North Carolina.

"I knew they had a strong tradition of tight ends," said Blizzard, who follows Alge Crumpler and Freddie Jones as recent top-notch tight ends to come out of the Tar Heels program. "I wanted to be a part of that. It seemed like a good fit."

After sitting out a year because of transfer rules, Blizzard had a standout junior season, catching 28 passes for 440 yards and five touchdowns while earning honorable mention All-ACC honors.

But a severe viral infection and a calf strain sidelined him for four games during his senior season and he caught just 20 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.

"I was disappointed I wasn't drafted, but I wound up in a good spot," Blizzard said. "I'm sure what happened my senior season hurt me in that respect. But I'm ready to put all of that behind me."

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