Throughout the offseason, The Game Haus will be spotlighting some under-the-radar prospects hoping to continue their football careers on the professional level – preferably in the NFL.
Most hail from schools outside the traditional Power 5, and even from the FCS level. However, their heart and determination to reach the NFL, or any professional football league, for that matter, is larger and greater than most recognizable NFL prospects looking to make their dream a reality.
Today, Ari Werts is up, TE/WR, East Tennessee State
As far as Ari Werts is concerned, he’s been on the job for some time. Now, he’s just looking for a promotion.
But unlike elite tight end talents such as T.J. Hockenson or Jace Sternberger, Werts has to promote himself. So far, he’s having a great time doing so, letting his actions do the talking while working to preparing himself to continue his football career.
Loud enough, possibly, that he will find himself on a pro roster come late summer, preferably to earn that promotion with an NFL team.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in my life,” Werts said. “I want this life.”
Time to shine
Following a college career that featured 62 receptions for 914 yards and three touchdowns at two schools, Werts is not guaranteed to hear his name called at the NFL Draft in late April. He spent his first three seasons at Georgia State, but felt he was not utilized as much as he should have been.
So, the 6-foot-4 Werts landed at East Tennessee State, where he played mostly wide receiver. He caught 14 passes for 226 yards as a senior and starred on special teams. He also overcame a concussion to help the Buccaneers reach the FCS playoffs in 2018.
But now it’s his time.
Though coaches and executives, perhaps from the NFL, CFL, Alliance of American Football, XFL or Arena League, will ultimately decide his professional fate, it’s on Werts to get himself ready to be noticed by pro scouts looking for that next diamond in the rough.
“This is exactly what I want,” said Werts, who feels he can be more productive as a tight end at the next level, but knows his speed to play receiver make him a versatile commodity who is enticing to pro teams at any level.
“I just want to prove everything I can do,” he added. “Prove people wrong and show I can play.”
Werts hopes all the training he’s been doing, the weightlifting, blocking drills and conditioning will pay off. He’ll get the chance to show off at ETSU’s upcoming pro day, his true showcase.
The fact that Werts finished his career at an FCS school shouldn’t matter considering 19 players from the subdivision were selected in the 2018 NFL draft. Werts is confident in his ability and believes his time will come.
“Every time I touch the ball, I know I can be that playmaker,” he said. “Just make plays. But, I can play special teams, too.
“Whatever they ask, I’ll do it.”