Notebook: Kranchick a new man

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> With the signing of Walter Rasby yesterday, the Steelers now have five tight ends who combined to catch 15 passes last year.

It's an unheralded bunch, to say the most, but one player offers hope of breaking out. He's the big guy over there, the quiet guy with the speed.

"Oh, we're moving him to tackle," joked offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Matt Kranchick, though, isn't joking. After playing in only two games as a rookie, and not catching a pass, Kranchick got serious. He hired a personal trainer the day after the season ended and went to work that week. Three months later, he's bigger, faster, stronger and smarter.

"I don't see any reason why he can't become a good tight end in this league," said veteran tight end Matt Cushing.

Kranchick is beginning to believe it.

"Last year was pretty difficult," he said. "Not only did I lack the bulk to play the position the way it needed to be played, I really didn't know what I was doing. I hadn't played tight end much in college, so I had a lot to learn."

Kranchick spent the last three months watching film with tight ends coach James Daniel and working out with his trainer. Kranchick weighs 280 pounds, up 30 from his rookie playing weight.

"It's hurt my speed a little bit," Kranchick said. "But, really, I feel good. I'm stronger and still quick. I like it. I'll get down to about 270 to start the season, so I'm excited."

The Steelers could use a shot of excitement at the position.

Kranchick was drafted in the sixth round out of Penn State last year because of his 6-foot-7 frame and 4.6 40 speed. He flashed that speed in pre-season, but was inactive for all but two regular-season games because of his limited blocking skills.

Kranchick believes he's improved his blocking with the extra weight and the knowledge that's come with experience and film study. He could be a key player at training camp since the upcoming draft crop is considered light at the position.

"I imagine they'll draft a tight end, maybe even two," Kranchick said. "But there's nothing I can do about that. All I can do is get myself ready."

So far, he's well ahead of the pace.

QB UPDATE

Along with signing Rasby and receiver Sean Morey yesterday, the Steelers signed quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who was an exclusive-rights free agent.

With Charlie Batch still re-habbing from a knee injury, the Steelers have three healthy quarterbacks. They were hoping to have four, but Jeff Krohn had to be released last month.

Signed after the 2004 season, Krohn -- who'd played for Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple at the University of Massachusetts -- was ticketed for NFL Europe. But his career appears to be over because of heart surgery scheduled for today.

Krohn was diagnosed with a problem in his aorta last month and couldn't pass the team's physical. The coaching staff had hoped Krohn would compete with St. Pierre for a roster spot.

"He wasn't just roster filler," said Whipple. "He could've challenged for the third spot."

Krohn transferred to UMass from Arizona State, where he was a starter ahead of Andrew Walter, a highly touted draft prospect this spring.

INTERESTING VISITORS

They aren't well known now, but the three draft prospects who visited the Steelers on Wednesday have interesting potential.
  • Shaun Nua (6-5, 270) is a defensive end who led BYU last year with six sacks. He also took snaps at tight end in the Las Vegas All-American Classic. Nua's hometown is Pago, Pago in American Samoa.
  • Todd Herremans (6-6, 324, 5.13 40) is a left tackle from Division II Saginaw Valley State. He was the team's Most Valuable Freshman, made the All-Academic team as a sophomore, the All-GLIAC team as a junior and was named GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. Herremans wasn't invited to the combine, but representatives from 26 teams attended his pro day workout.
  • Kelvin Hayden (5-10 3/8, 197, 4.48, 17 reps) is a defensive back from Illinois. As a senior, Hayden tied for the Big Ten Conference interceptions lead with 4 a year after leading Illinois in receptions with 52. As a sophomore at Joliet Junior College, he caught 72 passes to become the first wide receiver ever named the NJCAA National Offensive Player of the Year. He was also the MVP of the 2002 NJCAA national title game. Some scouts project him to safety. Hayden and Herremans are considered two of the fastest-rising prospects in the draft pool.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nIt's an unheralded bunch, to say the most, but one player offers hope of breaking out. He's the big guy over there, the quiet guy with the speed.

\r\n\"Oh, we're moving him to tackle,\" joked offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

\r\nMatt Kranchick, though, isn't joking. After playing in only two games as a rookie, and not catching a pass, Kranchick got serious. He hired a personal trainer the day after the season ended and went to work that week. Three months later, he's bigger, faster, stronger and smarter.

\r\n\"I don't see any reason why he can't become a good tight end in this league,\" said veteran tight end Matt Cushing.

\r\nKranchick is beginning to believe it.

\r\n\"Last year was pretty difficult,\" he said. \"Not only did I lack the bulk to play the position the way it needed to be played, I really didn't know what I was doing. I hadn't played tight end much in college, so I had a lot to learn.\"

\r\nKranchick spent the last three months watching film with tight ends coach James Daniel and working out with his trainer. Kranchick weighs 280 pounds, up 30 from his rookie playing weight.

\r\n\"It's hurt my speed a little bit,\" Kranchick said. \"But, really, I feel good. I'm stronger and still quick. I like it. I'll get down to about 270 to start the season, so I'm excited.\"

\r\nThe Steelers could use a shot of excitement at the position.

\r\nKranchick was drafted in the sixth round out of Penn State last year because of his 6-foot-7 frame and 4.6 40 speed. He flashed that speed in pre-season, but was inactive for all but two regular-season games because of his limited blocking skills.

\r\nKranchick believes he's improved his blocking with the extra weight and the knowledge that's come with experience and film study. He could be a key player at training camp since the upcoming draft crop is considered light at the position.

\r\n\"I imagine they'll draft a tight end, maybe even two,\" Kranchick said. \"But there's nothing I can do about that. All I can do is get myself ready.\"

\r\nSo far, he's well ahead of the pace.\r\n

QB UPDATE

\r\nAlong with signing Rasby and receiver Sean Morey yesterday, the Steelers signed quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who was an exclusive-rights free agent.

\r\nWith Charlie Batch still re-habbing from a knee injury, the Steelers have three healthy quarterbacks. They were hoping to have four, but Jeff Krohn had to be released last month.

\r\nSigned after the 2004 season, Krohn -- who'd played for Steelers quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple at the University of Massachusetts -- was ticketed for NFL Europe. But his career appears to be over because of heart surgery scheduled for today.

\r\nKrohn was diagnosed with a problem in his aorta last month and couldn't pass the team's physical. The coaching staff had hoped Krohn would compete with St. Pierre for a roster spot.

\r\n\"He wasn't just roster filler,\" said Whipple. \"He could've challenged for the third spot.\"

\r\nKrohn transferred to UMass from Arizona State, where he was a starter ahead of Andrew Walter, a highly touted draft prospect this spring.

INTERESTING VISITORS

\r\nThey aren't well known now, but the three draft prospects who visited the Steelers on Wednesday have interesting potential.\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" ","skipOnMobile":true,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2005-04-13T15:16:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"Senior Editor","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:159989]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:159989]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"9867","name":"Illinois - Football"},{"id":"422","name":"Penn State"},{"id":"9887","name":"Penn State - Football"},{"id":"9807","name":"Boston College - Football"},{"id":"342","name":"Boston College"},{"id":"413","name":"Illinois"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh 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