This college basketball forward conversion into a tight end trend of the NFL all started with Antonio Gates. Gates has some Arkansas connections and unfortunately that is one of the reasons why Hogs fans are stuck with former Arkansas basketball coach Stan Heath.
In the late 1990s, Gates became the star of two sports preparation in Detroit. He signed up at Michigan State because Spartan head coach Nick Saban promised he could play the sport. Later, the legendary Alabama coach now turned down the promise and Gates decided he preferred to play basketball and move to Kent State.
In a mid-major program in Ohio, he starred as an undersized forward for former Sparty Heath assistant, who worked under the great Tom Izzo. Playing Gates star in the NCAA Tournament alongside star point guard Trevor Huffman pushed the Golden Flashes into the Elite 8 and made Heath, in his only year as head coach, the target of late UA athletic director Frank Broyles after sacking Nolan Richardson. .
Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates
Gates made a good decision and Broyles a bad one. Gates knows he’s not big enough to play NBA prowess, but he thinks he can perfect his football skills and try out for the NFL. The result was a Hall of Fame career with the San Diego Chargers where he could coach former Arkansas All-American Hunter Henry before retiring.
Although he previously wore the number 86 with Los Angeles, Henry announced last spring that he would wear the number 85 with New England in honor of his former Charger teammate.
“Obviously I played with one of the big‘ 85s ’to ever play a game and one of the best tight ends to play a game under Antonio Gates,” Henry said. “Maybe this is an honor for him, and hopefully I can do the numbers right for him.”
Antonio Gates is successful at the next level, but the same can’t be said of a college coach. Unfortunately, Broyles hired Heath, and it was the beginning of almost twenty years of bad or mediocre Arkansas basketball until Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek had the brilliant idea of hiring Eric Musselman. Two Elite Eight runs in three years have ecstatic fan Hogs with one of the top recruiting classes in the country going to converge on campus this summer.
One of Musselman’s smart transfer portals has been made in three of his sighing Wichita State senior forward Trey Wade, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound banger. Wade’s last season in college wasn’t spectacular, but he will be known by the Hogs faithfully for two things. One was a collision with Musselman in practice, which resulted in an Arkansas basketball coach’s rotator cuff injury, and he was unable to coach for several weeks and on a sling.
His appearance against Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 game of the NCAA Tournament will also not be forgotten. He scored 15 points and was 3-of-4 from the free-throw line with seven rebounds. A 3-pointer with 16:35 to play in the game gave Arkansas a lead that never gave up. Wade, who started 24 games, also hit a key jumper with 7:18 to play to close 7-2 and give Arkansas an eight-point lead. Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade couldn’t help but give a shout out on Twitter:
But even if the insertion into the starting lineup is key as the Hogs turn the season around, Wade knows that once he reaches Fayetteville, he won’t have a future in the NBA and may not be in professional basketball. .
So, like other college basketball players who play small forward or small power forward, he started thinking about the NFL. Fortunately, his coach has some connections in the NFL. Musselman friend Adam EngroffThe Miami Dolphins scouts, came to watch training at the beginning of the season and Musselman pointed out.
When Miami doesn’t take Wade (Arizona did) the visit might get the ball rolling. Anyway, the NFL team became familiar with Wade and his aspirations.
The only thing unique about his situation is that he hasn’t played football since the age of 12. Gates at least played in high school and started playing at MSU. Jimmy Graham, who enjoyed some great years with the New Orleans Saints, started in Miami playing basketball but then played football for the season with the Hurricanes and got a chance to make a mark in the NFL.
NFL scouts have been particularly fond of college basketball players playing the role because of their size, the 6-foot-5 to 6-7 range, which is suitable for tight end and similar skills such as running and hand. . The right player can make the transition between the two sports because rugged athleticism is such a big part of the NFL’s tight end game. Wade checked all the boxes.
That’s why in this offseason alone, the NFL team is looking at two other college basketball players to make conversions for the tight end – Texas Tech’s Marcus Santos -Silva and Clemson’s Naz Bohannon.
Arkansan who also made the NFL Jump
If Wade makes it to the NFL, the journey could be very similar to Jacksonville native Demetrius Harris. Harris is a two -star sports star for Jacksonville High School, which has now joined North Pulaski. Harris entered football at Arkansas State but did not meet his academic requirements.
He enrolled in junior high in Missouri and played basketball in Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After making the same number of roles as Wade, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, who impressed with a 6-foot-7, 237-pound frame and in fact he ran 40 yards in 4.52 seconds and jumped vertically. 36 1/2 inches.
Harris was on the Chiefs training squad for the season and then made the active roster.
After five years with the Chiefs, Harris played for the Cardinals last season after spending seasons with Cleveland and Chicago. He’s found that his basketball background has helped in at least one thing: “From playing defense in basketball, where you’re low, it helps me get in and out of breaks,” Harris said. “A lot of people say that I walk like a basketball player. I don’t know what that means. I think it’s very rare, people on defense rarely see it.
Usually used as a blocker, he started in three games in 2021 and played in 13 but only had two catches for seven yards.
The 30-year-old Harris may not be Gates, but he has played professional football for eight years now and has earned more than $ 11.2 million in his career. That in itself is an achievement. There are probably plenty of other basketball prospects who haven’t made the NFL roster, but quite a few are making good decisions for Wade. Only time will tell if he can break the rust of football and make a career out of football, but when Wade sees that if he doesn’t try now, he will surely think about what happened. .
And there is nothing worse than having a professional basketball career abroad.
Listen to Wade talk about his shots in the NFL here: