NASHVILLE – Two Tennessee Titans tennis players will seek additional education at Vanderbilt University later this month. They hope to benefit from a local charity in the process.
Veteran Austin Hooper and rookie Chig Okonquo are expected to attend George Keatle’s Tight End University in Vanderbilt on June 22-24.
This is the second consecutive off-season in which Keatl – All-Pro thin end with San Francisco 49ers – hosts Tight End University in the city. The inaugural event drew about 50 NFL players last season, and the number is expected to rise to at least 75 this year.
In principle, the whole concept is just to gather as much as we can under one roof and just talk ball, be on the field, watch each other go routes, just ask questions, learn from each other and then just hang around and get to know each other, “Keatle said in the AP Pro Football podcast.
In addition to most of the NFL’s current top titles such as Keatle, Travis Kells of Kansas City and Darren Waller of Las Vegas, this year’s event is expected to include former names such as Tony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark.
Hooper attended the first edition of the offseason last season before his final year in Cleveland, when Hooper caught 38 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns. The first two numbers were the lowest for Hooper since his rookie 2016. Hooper won Pro Bowl awards recently in 2019 in Atlanta, when he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns.
“We will look for ways to highlight the skill set (Hooper) and make it speed up the way we do things here, and we are very happy to have it here,” said Titans Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing. “You know, I like some tight ends.”
Okonkwo, selected from the fourth round two months ago, caught 52 passes for 447 yards and five touchdowns last season in Maryland. About 6 feet 3 and 238 pounds Okonkwo should bring the much needed speed and ability to catch passes on the hull, but will also need to establish itself as a working blocker.
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“I think he’s doing everything we ask him to do,” Downing said. “It’s hard to do a few reps that you will need against another body (out of season) without pads.
“But we will also have to do a good job and be creative in how it blocks and where we put it. He will not be able to withstand a 280-kilogram defensive end. That would not be fair. So let’s hope we can continue to find ways for him to be there and help us when we run football and do some of the things his natural skills would give him to be able to do when we throw football. “
Hooper and Okonkwo are officially listed as the closest to participating in the fundraising competition that accompanies Tight End University. Bridgestone merge with Tight End University for a two-week fundraising competition – June 6-20 – to see which Tight End can raise the most money for the boys ‘and girls’ club in their hometown. The player’s club with most money raised will receive an additional $ 50,000.
However, Hooper and Okonquo are not the only titans looking for their peers for further education this off-season.
Line defender Jeffrey Simmons recently posted photo on social networks illustrating his presence at von Miller’s Pass Rush summit in Las Vegas earlier this month. Simmons is out of the Pro Bowl season, in which he has set overall career records of 54 shots, 8.5 jacks, 58 quarterback presses and 12 loss fights, but has not participated in any volunteer training sessions that were open to media and has probably stayed away for a long time, if not for the entire off-season program so far.
Last week, coach Mike Vrabel was asked if he liked seeing his players attend off-season camps like Hooper, Okonquo and Simmons.
“I don’t know,” said Sparrow. “I haven’t been to them, so I don’t know what they could gain or what they’re doing.”
Defensive line coach Terrell Williams added: “I trust Jeff and it’s good that he’s working with Von. We had Von when I was at Texas A&M, coaching there (in 2010) and this is a good place for (Simmons) to continue to hone his skills. There are other boys we know. So that’s a good deal for him. “