In music or football, Koyack has versatility

Ben Koyack loves music and plays several instruments. On the football field, he is versatile, too, as another Notre Dame tight end primed for the NFL.

Ben Koyack’s motto: Versatility.

Koyack caught 44 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns for Notre Dame, with 30 of those catches and 317 yards as a senior. But he believes his value goes beyond receptions.

Notre Dame tight ends are expected to be versatile in the position and on special teams, said Koyack, who was also responsible for recovering onside kicks at times with the Fighting Irish. NFL Combine Coverage
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“It goes back to the mental state. A lot of teams are going to prepare you physically, but our coaches want us to be able to do it all and not just be one-trick ponies,” he said. “That might be just blocking or catching the ball. Our coaches really want us to be put into any situation so if they want to change something up or use us in a different way there’s no adjustment. We can just go ahead and be plugged into that situation.”

Apparently, several NFL teams took notice, taking advantage of the early chance to talk with Koyack privately for informal interviews. Among the teams talking to him on his first day in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine were the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“As a blocker, Koyack will consistently position and wall off the defender, showing above-average leg drive and lateral agility to sustain when blocking in-line,” draft analyst Dave-Te’ Thomas said. “He will stalk, wall off and finish with lots of power behind his hand jolt. He seems to be a punishing blocker on the move and, while he does not have a sudden burst on his release, he runs with a normal stride once he gets into his routes.

“In limited receiving chances, he appears to be an effective inside and short-area receiver, as he shows good timing and ability to catch the ball in traffic, but lacks the initial burst to elude and the second gear to pull away from even second-level defenders after the catch.”

Thomas believes the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants could also be teams interested in him as a second- or third-round choice, calling him a “safe bet” to move the chains.

“Teams want to see your background, how you grew up, what kind of things you enjoy. At the end of the day, it’s been a good mix of football and everyday life,” Koyack said of his NFL team interviews.

“I always talk about music. I grew up with a family of musicians and I play a bunch of instruments myself. It’s kind of what I like to do on my downtime. It’s something that sets me apart but it’s true as well.”

Both of his parents were music majors and “played a little bit of everything,” he said. His sister plays clarinet, his brother the drums. In addition to tight end, Koyack plays trombone, guitar, the ukulele and some piano.

He believes learning to play an instrument assists him with figuring out a playbook quickly, and he dreamed of playing in the NFL at a young age while playing football in the snow with his brothers.

Notre Dame, he says, prepared him for the fishbowl lifestyle that will come with playing in the NFL.

“I’d say it’s probably a blessing. You kind of get acclimated to things at an early age,” he said. “Coming in at 18 years old, I learned pretty fast that all eyes are on me and competition is going to be pretty high. I think that way it was a good thing. That way I didn’t have to wait until I’m here and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m playing against some good guys. I come in here and I already have some experience under my belt. I think that helps me move onto the next level.”

While the Fighting Irish have a long history of producing successful tight ends in the NFL, Jason Witten is the tight end he looks up to most, saying Witten is “always in the right place at the right time.”

That’s a spot Koyack hopes to be in come draft day, wherever that “right place” might be in the NFL.


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