Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.
Former University of Colorado tight end Nick Kasa was signed to the Denver Broncos’ practice squad last Monday, just ahead of this Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
The Thornton, Colorado native played for the Buffs from 2010-2012. Fans will likely remember his dramatic 70-yard touchdown against Washington State during his senior year, a play that contributed heavily to the Buffs’ 35-34 comeback victory.
Coincidentally, Kasa attended the AFC Championship game last week while cheering on the Broncos, who were simultaneously trying to get in contact with him.
He will join fellow CU alumn Tyler Polumbus, an offensive lineman to whom the Broncos inked a one-year deal this past October. Polumbus was a staple on the Buffs’ roster from 2003-2007. His senior year marked the last time a Buffaloes team made it to a bowl game. They lost to Alabama 30-24 in the 2007 Independence Bowl.
Kasa’s journey to the NFL featured some peculiarities. While playing for the Buffs, Kasa made an unusual position change well into his career. Coaches converted him from a defensive end to a tight end late in his junior campaign.
But Kasa figured things out quickly, as he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors that same year. He would go on to have an impressive senior year, leading the team with an average of 15.6 yards per catch. Kasa caught 25 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns in his final season with the Buffs.
The Oakland Raiders drafted Kasa in 2013. He played all 16 games and had one catch in the 2013-14 season for Oakland, a nine-yard touchdown. But a torn ACL forced him to miss the 2014-15 season, and he was waived by the team last spring prior to this season.
It remains unclear whether Kasa will actually suit up for Super Bowl 50. But his late signing hints at the Broncos’ desire to prepare for the Carolina Panthers’ dynamic tight end, Greg Olsen. This season Olsen terrorized opposing defenses, raking up 1,104 receiving yards — a personal best.
The 6-foot-5, 253-pound University of Miami graduate’s impending matchup with the Broncos’ secondary is highly anticipated. Kasa’s presence on the practice squad should aid Denver’s preparations in covering a tall and athletic target with decent speed. Olsen illustrated this speed early in career by running a 4.55 second 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine, which was faster than 19 of the 42 receivers who participated that year.
Whether Kasa’s duration with the Broncos is short-lived or not, his late signing at the very least yields him the chance to play and compete on his hometown football team on the precipice of a historic game.
The Broncos and Panthers will compete in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, Feb. 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.