Tight End Brody Eldridge Prepares For New Experience in NFL
ANDERSON, Ind. -Selected by the Colts in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft out of Oklahoma, rookie tight-end Brody Eldridge will play in his first NFL preseason game on Sunday.
But this week during training camp at Anderson University, Eldridge said he wasn't always so sure it would happen.
While Eldridge, 6-5, 265, played as a tight end at Prairie View High School in La Cygne, Kan., his future initially seemed to be on defense, not offense, as he was rated the No. 43 strong-side defensive end in the country heading into college.
But after reaching Oklahoma in 2005, Eldridge was exclusively an offensive player. And after redshirting as a freshman, Eldridge then used his versatility to not only play tight end, but also fullback, center and left guard. As a sophomore, he was named First-Team All-Big 12 as a fullback by the league's coaches.
However, it wasn't until near the end of his college career that he really began to see football as his future.
"I probably didn't realize the NFL could be a reality until my senior year of college," Eldridge said following a recent training camp practice at Anderson University. "I didn't know if it would happen or not. I started talking to my coaches and I felt like the opportunity was going to be there if I kept working."
And while an injury cut his senior season short, and although he began to have doubts about his future, Eldridge wouldn't let it hold him back. And besides, by then, the Colts already had seen the potential he possessed.
With All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark, who became the second tight end in NFL history to record 100 receptions last season, Eldridge's versatility and blocking abilities could serve as a perfect complement. And that role is one Eldridge is comfortable filling.
At Oklahoma, Eldridge served as a second tight end alongside Jermaine Gresham, the team's primary pass-catcher who was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Whatever role I'm asked to do, I'll do. I was asked to be more of a blocker down at Oklahoma, and whatever they want me to do here is what I have to do," said Eldridge. "As long as I'm on the field it doesn't matter."
And while he arrived in Indianapolis ready to go, the transition was far from easy.
"It's been tough," Eldridge said. "You go from college, four years of knowing an offense and coming in and not knowing anything. So the mental part has been real tough. I'm becoming more comfortable, but I still have a long ways to go. It's coming day by day."
Nearly two weeks into training camp, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he has been pleased with the rookies' progress, including Eldridge.
"He has done remarkably well. He's one of those guys who I think has a really good sense of himself and understands what he has to do to get himself ready. He's a guy who studies extremely hard. He focuses in on his material extremely well, then he's able to take that material and take it out on the field and apply it."
And Caldwell isn't the only one who has noticed Eldridge's improvement. Clark also seems confident that Eldridge will be a great asset to the Colts offense this season.
"(Brody) is going to do a lot of good things for us. He is smart. He is learning the offense. He's ahead of the curve in picking up the offense and making plays. We are kind of getting into that part of the camp where we are at the end of installing the whole offense. He's picking up things that we haven't reviewed or haven't gone over on the field during practice, and he is picking it up."
As the Colts kick off the preseason Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, Eldridge is ready to kick off his NFL career.
"I imagine it's going to be like college probably, but I have no idea until I'm actually there."
His motivation as he steps onto the field of Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday:
"I'm motivated by the same thing that always motivates me, the love to play the game. That's really all it is."