Christian Kuntz takes aim at making leap from NEC to NFL

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Christian Kuntz strips the Sacred Heart quarterback on Senior Day at Arthur J. Rooney Field on Nov. 12, 2016. The Dukes won 31-10.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Christian Kuntz strips the Sacred Heart quarterback on Senior Day at Arthur J. Rooney Field on Nov. 12, 2016. The Dukes won 31-10.

By David Borne | Staff Writer

Every spring, college athletes across the country make a final push to impress scouts in order to hopefully achieve their lifelong goal of playing for an NFL team.

Obviously, it’s not easy to land an NFL roster spot. When you’re coming out of a small FCS school that receives little publicity like Duquesne, it’s even more difficult.

Linebacker Christian Kuntz is up for the challenge.

“It is what it is, you just have to make the most of every opportunity,” Kuntz said. “There’s not really much we can do about the publicity aspect of it, so I don’t even let that bother me at all. Once you get there, nobody cares where you came from.”

Kuntz was a three year starter during his time at Duquesne. After being sidelined for the entire 2014 season due to a knee injury he was granted a medical redshirt and returned as a redshirt junior the following season. Kuntz received AP All-American Second Team honors in 2015 and 2016, and was named NEC Defensive Player of the Year in both of those seasons. He finished his time at Duquesne with 30.5 sacks.

Preparation for the draft began immediately after the season for Kuntz. He went up to Minnesota to work out with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety, now defensive back coach, Tyrone Carter. Kuntz then spent about two and a half months with strength and speed coach Jim Kielbaso. Kielbaso has worked with a long list of NFL players and prospects, including Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril.

The Pittsburgh native returned to the Bluff for Duquesne’s Pro Day on March 22. Scouts from at least 18 different NFL teams showed up on a freezing cold Wednesday morning to get a good look at Kuntz and 12 of his teammates.

“There was a handful of scouts there which was great to see,” Kuntz said. “We did talk to a couple of them after, and I know the weather wasn’t the greatest at Pro Day so a couple of them mentioned they want to come back to work us out or have us out to their facilities. It was great getting out there in front of them and showcasing our talents.”

Some of Kuntz’s former teammates dealt with this exact situation this time last year. Wideout Chris King and guard Dan Buchholz both went undrafted but were invited to join NFL teams in training camp. Kuntz has had the opportunity to talk with both of them about what to expect in the next month or two.

“It’s cool to get some advice and insight on what to expect for the next couple weeks,” Kuntz said. “I know the draft isn’t for four more weeks or so, so it’s kind of a boring period and you get antsy. They’ve been really good with giving advice. It was nice to have them since they’ve been in that situation before and can be helpful to me.”

In a deep defensive class, Kuntz believes certain aspects of his game help him stand out from the rest of the pack.

“I definitely think it’s my short burst speed and ability to make impactful plays in the back field,” Kuntz said. “Just letting my instincts take over and being a smart football player is what I think separates me from others.”

Kuntz will continue to prepare and try to impress scouts before the NFL Draft takes place in Philadelphia from April 27-29. He’ll be sure to stay close to his phone around the time, waiting to get the phone call he has worked toward his entire life.

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