Former Iowa tight end Scott Chandler was a relative unknown through the first three seasons of his NFL career.
Four different teams.
Released four times.
Fast forward to the 2011 campaign — Chandler’s fourth season in the NFL — and the Buffalo Bills tight end has suddenly evolved not only into a pass-catching threat, but one of the league’s biggest surprises through two weeks of play.
The former Hawkeye hauled in a team-leading five catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills 41-7 Week 1 blowout win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and had two receptions for 16 yards and one touchdown in a 38-35 Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Chandler’s three receiving touchdowns are tied for third-best in the league through the first two weeks of the season.
What has been the difference for the 6-foot-7, 263-pound tight end this year?
How does a player who hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since 2006 — Chandler’s senior season at Iowa — snag three receiving scores in the first two weeks of the NFL season?
The solution is simple. It’s a combination of staying healthy and taking advantage of being on the right team at the right time.
“For me, it was really exciting to go out there and get a chance to play,” Chandler told reporters after his two touchdown performance in Week 1. “I’ve had some down times in the last four years, but this really makes it worth it.”
A fourth round pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 2007 NFL Draft, Chandler was instantly put in a situation where success would have been difficult for even the best collegiate tight end.
The Chargers already had a prolific, play-making tight end in Antonio Gates, who in 2007 had already been to three Pro Bowls. Chandler played in only one game with the Chargers in his rookie season, then spent all of 2008 on injured reserve before being released.
Two stints with the Cowboys and one with the Giants also proved unsuccessful. Despite appearing in nine games for Dallas in 2010, Chandler was once again on a squad who already had a top tier tight end — seven-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten.
Chandler didn’t sit back and feel sorry for himself, however.
“As frustrating as those four years were, they weren’t a waste,” he said in an article in the Times-Union. “There’s a lot to learn from those guys, and I soaked up as much as I could.”
The former Hawkeye joined the Bills in 2010 — the perfect locale for a tight end with something to prove.
“Successful tight end” isn’t a phrase uttered often in Buffalo.
In the previous two seasons, Bills tight ends have combined to catch only two touchdown passes.
Chandler is the first Buffalo tight end to catch two touchdowns in a road game since 1992, the first with five catches in a game since 2009, and the first to amass at least 63 receiving yards in a game since 2008.
The former Hawkeye will surely garner more attention as the 2011 NFL season progresses, forcing him to step up and show he can still be a viable offensive threat now that he’ll actually be listed in opponents’ scouting reports.
While he may not lead the league in catches or touchdowns this season, Chandler has accomplished what he’s set out to do since becoming a professional football player.
Prove he belongs.
“I made a decision after I got cut the first time that I was going to do this until nobody called,” Chandler said in an article in The Buffalo News. “People kept calling…Through prayer and reason you come to see that if you can play football a lot of time people will find an opportunity to give you.”
We’ve reached the third round of the Top NFL Hawkeye poll. Thanks to all of the Iowa fans who have participated in the polling thus far.
We’re down to the Elite 8. Here are the match-ups:
#1 Dallas Clark vs. #8 Tony Moeaki
#4 Shonn Greene vs. #5 Chad Greenway
#2 Nate Kaeding vs. #10 Robert Gallery
#3 Bob Sanders vs. #6 Aaron Kampman
We’ve reached the second round of the Top NFL Hawkeye poll. Thanks to all of the Iowa fans who participated in the first round of polling. 223 votes were cast and now we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen.
Here are the matchups…
# 1 Dallas Clark vs. # 17 Jason Baker
#8 Tony Moeaki vs. #9 Bryan Bulaga
#4 Shonn Greene vs. # 13 Jonathan Babineaux
#5 Chad Greenway vs. #12 Pat Angerer
#2 Nate Kaeding vs. #15 Matt Roth
#7 Casey Wiegmann vs. #10 Robert Gallery
#3 Bob Sanders vs. #14 Charles Godfrey
#6 Aaron Kampman vs. #11 Marshal Yanda
Click on the Picture to view an interactive look back at Tate to Holloway: “The Catch”
Hawkeye fans refer to it as THE CATCH, one of the greatest plays in recent Iowa football history, and it is still is fresh in fans’ minds.
Warren Holloway’s miracle play, a 56-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Drew Tate, sealed a 30-25 win for Iowa over LSU — the defending BCS National Champion — in the Capitol One Bowl on January 1, 2005. It was the senior’s only touchdown of his Hawkeye career, making it all the more special.
Holloway says the coolest thing about meeting Hawkeye fans is hearing the hundreds of different stories about where people were, what they were doing, and how they reacted when the Iowa wide receiver made what is now hailed simply as THE CATCH.
Everyone has a different viewpoint, and HawkeyeLocator interviewed several people in attendance that day in Orlando, including players, coaches, team administrators and media members for multiple perspectives on the play. Check out each person’s story on her interactive look back at THE CATCH.
What do you remember about THE CATCH? Share your story in the comments section below.
Former Iowa football player Andy Fenstermaker went from booting punts to grading spelling tests.
Fenstermaker, a three-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes from 2004 to 2006, is in his third year teaching first grade at Penn elementary school in North Liberty, Iowa.
The Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, native joined the Hawkeye football program as a walk-on in 2003 after transferring from Missouri Western. Fenstermaker was the Hawkeyes starting punter for two seasons and earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 2006. He punted 105 times in his Hawkeye career, averaging 38 yards per punt and placing 40 kicks inside the opponents 20-yard-line.
During his time in Iowa City, he also developed a passion for working with kids. The former punter was a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters and eventually decided to pursue a career in elementary education.
“I wanted to have a job where you could make an impact on the future,” Fenstermaker said. “Everyone has had a teacher or mentor that has impacted them in some way shape or form. That really appealed to me.”
After graduating from the UI in 2007, Fenstermaker became a part-time third grade teacher in the Iowa City school district. He held the position for one year before being hired at his current job in North Liberty.
His time as a student-athlete played a vital role in his teaching style, he said. Being able to see firsthand how Kirk Ferentz and the rest of the Iowa coaching staff interacted and influenced young people greatly impacted the former Hawkeye.
“There’s a lot of similarities with playing sport at the college level and teaching,” Fenstermaker said. “At Iowa, the big message was that [the team] is much bigger than just one person. That’s kind of the same scenario with teaching. It takes all the support staff at school, the parents, and the teachers in order to make it a success.”
While the 27-year-old teacher educates his students about typical first grade subjects such as math, science, and history, he tries to do so in a unique way — by incorporating new technology into his daily teachings.
He’s set up a class website and blog, complete with videos, photos and links to other learning resources for his students. His class has also made it a goal to try to talk with an elementary school class from each of the 50 states via Skype as a way to a gain a greater outlook on the similarities and differences between schools, communities and states.
In addition to teaching, Fenstermaker continues to be involved in sports. He has previously coached freshman football at Iowa City West and at Iowa City City high school and currently coaches sophomore baseball at West High. He’s also helped with the Hawkeyes special teams camp every summer since he’s graduated.
Although time doesn’t permit him to coach football for the time being, Fenstermaker said he plans to be involved on the gridiron sometime in the future.
Until then, he’s content with teaching his first graders and leaving a lasting impression on the future of America.
“One of the best benefits with the age I work with is their passion and drive for learning,” he said. “Just to see those light-bulb moments when things become routine and knowing that you had a huge part in that success is really rewarding.”
Former Hawkeye punter Reggie Roby has an impressive resume.
He’s a three-time Pro Bowler.
A seven-time All-Pro.
A member of the 1980’s NFL All-Decade Team
And a lyric in a popular rap song?
One of my friends who is more well-versed in the rap music scene told me about this the other day.
Washington, D.C.-based rapper Wale recently released a song titled “4am.” For those unfamiliar with Wale, he was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2010 BET Awards. He’s signed with the Maybach Music Group label, which was founded by fellow rapper Rick Ross.
About 2 minutes, 40 seconds into the song, Wale raps the following lyrics…
I’m at Dallas with luggage fly straight to the money
And you don’t understand my slang my colloquial’s lovely
So they quote me and love me like I’m a poet or something
Hoe I kick it, I punt it like Reggie Roby or something
Apparently Wale is releasing a music video for the song soon. No word on whether a highlight of Roby’s high leg kick will make an appearance in the video.
If you’d like to listen to the song, feel free to check it out here.
Here’s a few Hawkeye news and notes to read about…
– Bob Sanders is no longer a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and the organization didn’t waste any time getting his banner off of Lucas Oil Stadium. What image is in place of the former Iowa ballhawk? Find out at ProFootballTalk.com
– Former Iowa safety Tyler Sash is teaming up with ex-Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud to raise money for a cancer patient, writes Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register
– On a sad note, Bub Krieger, the grandfather of former basketball star Jess Settles and current Hawkeye football player Henry Krieger-Coble, passed away last Saturday at age 91. Susan Harman of the Iowa City Press-Citizen writes about how the Krieger family exemplifies Iowa’s athletic values.