If you can play, the NFL will find you.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, was a basketball player in college at Kent State.

New Orleans Saints star tight end Jimmy Graham, a third-round pick, played basketball for the Miami Hurricanes.

Nick Kasa couldn't hang with Andre Roberson or Josh Scott over at the Coors Events Center, but that doesn't mean his performance on the Buffs' dreadful 1-10 football team has gone unnoticed.

"I wasn't a basketball star at all," Kasa said of his hoops career at Legacy High School, where he played as a freshman and sophomore but did not letter. "I was physical and I'd foul out in five minutes."

Colorado's aggressive, athletic defensive end turned tight end is an intriguing prospect for NFL general managers to consider this spring.

The 6-6, 260-pound senior leads the Buffs' woeful passing offense in highlights this season with 20 receptions for 340 yards (17.0 yards per) and three touchdowns. Kasa's 70-yard touchdown at Washington State made his teammates believers as they completed a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback for CU's only win of the season.

So how good can Kasa be once he masters his new position?

"Rob Gronkowski," said CU senior defensive tackle Will Pericak, who was recruited as a tight end coming out of Boulder High School. "He's an athlete and he could really do anything, play any position. Tight end really worked out for him."


Jon Embree said during his Tuesday press conference that CU has petitioned the NCAA to grant Kasa a fifth year of eligibility. The program's last five-star recruit never redshirted and was often injured during his career.

Kasa has already moved on.

"It's not going to happen. I've tried and it won't happen," Kasa said.

CU's coaching staff is under fire entering Friday's finale against Utah at Folsom Field. Embree will probably have to make major staff changes to return as head coach for a third season.

J.D. Brookhart, whose duties include coaching the tight ends, deserves credit for developing Kasa at an accelerated rate.

"I've talked to J.D. about it every week," Kasa said of what he needs to do to make it in the NFL. Brookhart began is coaching career with the Denver Broncos. "He's been there before and he pushes me to my limits. He's great with it and I know that he's going to get me there."

Kasa's strengths right now are his impressive speed for a big man and run blocking. He should fare very well at CU's pro timing day and if invited to the NFL combine this winter.

However, do to the offensive line's early struggles, an absurd quarterback rotation and the lack of a consistent running game, there haven't been a lot of explosive plays or even completions in the passing game.

CU has the worst scoring offense (16.3 ppg) in the country and is last in the Pac-12 in passing offense (182.2 ypg).

"It hurts losing Kasa because I think he was improving and getting better as the year goes on," said Embree, a former tight end at CU and in the NFL. "I don't think anybody outside of the football offices thought that he would be an impactful player like he was."

Kasa has been a bright spot at times. But a concussion sustained early in the Arizona game prevented him from enhancing his statistics as part of the Buffs' best offensive performance of the season against the Wildcats' woeful defense.

"After the season is done, I'm still not done. I know that, and I think everybody knows that," Kasa said. "I've just got to keep going as hard as I can and see what happens. I hope (the NFL) sees me as a good prospect."

Senior safety Ray Polk, who switched from running back to the defensive side of the ball early in his CU career, said Kasa can be a nightmare to deal with in practice.

"He has done more than what was expected. It's great and I couldn't be happier for him," Polk said. "Honestly, he's a great player for us. A lot of people knew he was an athlete but wondered if he could make that transition over to tight end. He did it and he's been amazing. He's been killing it there."

Kasa's last chance to put some draft-worthy footage on tape will be against a Utes defense ranked fifth in the conference.

It has been a historically bad season for CU football, but an impressive one-year run at tight end for Kasa.

"I've had tons of fun. I do wish that I could have another year and get the chance to make up for this one," Kasa said. "It wasn't what any of us wanted, but I've had as much fun this year as I've had here because I love playing tight end."

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