WSU tight end gets special treat; playing for Randy Rahe

Jan 22 2012 - 9:17pm

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Like a lot of college sports aficionados, Brian Jankowski has moved on from football season to basketball.

For now.

The Weber State tight end is getting ready for spring football by playing on the scout squad for WSU's men's basketball team.

Jankowski, a 6-foot-4 senior from Idaho Falls, started all 11 games for Weber State's football team in 2009, scoring a touchdown against Texas Tech, and started in six of the eight games he played in 2011, catching six passes for 40 yards last season.

A tight end is football's version of a post player -- good hands, good at blocking out.

"They go hand-in-hand," said Jankowski, who played both football and basketball at Skyline High in Idaho Falls. "I'm pretty good at screening, I can catch the ball. The shot's coming along. Things are looking good. It's going to correlate a lot to the football field, I think it will help out a lot with my football game, so I'm looking forward to it."

Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe invited Jankowski, a former roommate of senior forward Kyle Bullinger and graduated center Trevor Morris, to help out with the scout squad.

"Coach Rahe actually came up to me one day and I thought he was joking. He said, 'Do you want to play some scout team?' I just kind of laughed; I was like, yeah, sure. He said, 'No, I'm serious." That's a big opportunity in my eyes. A Division I basketball team, to play for a coach like that, this program."

Jankowski said he has a lot of good friends on the team and figured it would help him stay in shape for football.

He might be a tight end converted into a temporary basketball player, but others have converted their basketball skills back to the football field.

Cornell Green was one of the best basketball players in Utah State history and never played football for the Aggies before becoming an All-Pro defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys.

More recently, Antonio Gates left the hardcourt for the gridiron and become been one of the best tight ends in NFL history.

Closer to Big Sky country, Julius Thomas was a four-year basketball player at Portland State, earned All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors at tight end in his only season of football and was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. Thomas' path was similar to one followed by Jimmy Graham, who played four years of hoops at Miami before a year on the gridiron and an NFL career.

Jordan Cameron, who redshirted as a freshman on BYU's basketball team, then transferred and eventually ended up as a tight end at Southern California, also went in the fourth round to the Cleveland Browns.

It isn't just a tight end's mentality that Jankowski brings to Weber State's hoops scout squad, Rahe says.

"Brian's a great kid. He fits our team personality. He's good friends with our players. We needed a little help on our scout team so I just asked him if he'd be willing to do it," Rahe said.

Jankowski is smart about picking up the plays and "he's tough -- obviously," Rahe said. "The guys love having him around. We all do.

"He's been really good for us. The guys love him. We already had great chemistry and he's added to it."

'Cat stats

Weber State junior point guard Damian Lillard continues to lead the nation in scoring at 25.1 points per game as of Sunday. Lillard also ranks sixth in free throw percentage (.909, 130-of-143). WSU junior guard Scott Bamforth is tied for 14th (.897, 70-of-78), but the leader in that category has local and WSU ties as well.

Woods Cross product Holton Hunsaker, a sophomore guard at Utah Valley, is shooting 94.3 percent from the line (50-of-53). His father, UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker, is a Weber State alum and former assistant as well as a former University of Utah assistant and interim head coach.

 

Wildcat Club

Weber State's Wildcat Club luncheon will be held today at noon at the Ogden Marriott Hotel on 24th Street. The luncheons are open to the public; cost is $10 per person. For more information, call the Wildcat Club at 801-626-6576 or visit weberstatesports.com.

Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @RoyBurton and read his WSU posts at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog.

 

 

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