The Next Hoopster Turned Tight End?

The Vikings could be searching for a tight end to develop in their West Coast offense, and a U Conn basketball player is making the switch to football. Could it be a trend in the future?

It seems just like yesterday when former Kent State University star basketball player Antonio Gates burst on to the scene in just his second season and had a breakout year for the San Diego Chargers. The former undrafted free agent is now recognized as one of the top two tight ends in the NFL.

New Haven-based agent Joe Linta, like many of his brethren, is looking for the next Gates, or a facsimile thereof. Linta signed former Texas A&M Corpis Christi basketball player Corey Lampkin last year and got him signed to a deal with the New York Jets and is looking for another hoops player that could make it to the next level on the football side.

After watching University of Connecticut basketball player Ed Nelson during the recent NCAA tournament, Linta decided to work him out on campus this past Tuesday.

"I went to the workout not expecting much, but after watching him workout, I came out knowing he's an NFL prospect at tight end. He's got great quickness, good hands and tremendous lower-body strength," said Linta, who played and coached at Yale.

Having athletic talent is just part of being an NFL prospect.

"I have never heard a stronger recommendation about a kid's heart and work ethic than that from (men's) head coach Jim Calhoun for Ed Nelson," Linta added.

Nelson made his decision on Thursday to sign with Linta, who also represents NFL coaches, players, and other projected high-round prospects for this month's draft such as Kamerion Wimbley and Charles Spencer. Locally, Linta represents Minnesota Vikings Matt Birk, Mike Rosenthal and Adam Goldberg.

While he hasn't played football since his sophomore year in high school, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Nelson is set to show NFL teams his talent at his pro day on campus next Friday. Throwing to him will be another Linta client, Yale University QB Jeff Mroz.

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