At 6-4 235 Christo Kourtzidis looks the part of a college tight end.
But looking the part and playing the part are two entirely different things, as Kourtzidis learned his freshman year- the hard way.
“Well the first D-End I had to block when I got here was Tank, so that was the moment where I was like ‘alright this is going to be different,’" joked Kourtzidis.
After starring as a pass-catching tight end in high school, Kourtzidis came to Florida State where his first assignment on the football field was to block Tank Carradine, the guy who tossed up 32 reps on the bench at his Pro Day and could potentially go in the first round of the NFL draft in a couple weeks despite tearing his ACL in Florida State's 2012 regular season finale.
How did it go?
“Not so well," he admitted. "I stepped down trying to cut him off and he just bench-pressed my chest with one arm and it was just like ‘ok, well, you know.’ And then you’ve got to learn the techniques and get around that.”
Kourtzidis admits blocking was not his strong suit when he arrived in Tallahassee.
“Especially in high school, you’re bigger than everybody else, faster than a lot of people so they want to get you out in space, get you the ball. So it’s different," he said. "Also just the size of the D-ends the size of the linebackers at this level is a lot different so it’s an adjustment but we’re getting there.”
With a year in the weight room and the experience he gained as a freshman, Kourtzidis feels he's ready to make the next step in 2013.
“I’d have to say so, a little bit of that comes from putting a little bit of weight on," Kourtzidis said. "Just being in the weight room, being in this program for a long period of time. But it’s always tough to work on, you’ve got to improve both aspects as much as you can.”
He's also made strides in the classroom and studying film where he feels he's begun to really pick up on Jimbo Fisher's offense.
“That’s the biggest difference I’ve felt is once you get a grasp of that offense, once you’re comfortable doing what you’re supposed to do, when you don’t have to think about that you can focus on the technique, focus on having a plan before the play as opposed to trying to figure out where you’re supposed to go.”
Kourtzidis played in eight games as a freshman, he caught one ball for 13 yards. He's hoping with him improved blocking, he'll have shown enough this Spring and in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game to earn a bigger role next season.
“I think what I took from that is you just have to take things in stride," said Kourtzidis. "Things aren’t going to go right every day, they’re also not going to go how you want or how you expect so you’ve just kind of got to move on your feet and go with the flow a little bit and not take things too hard and just keep your confidence up.”
He's also been working to improve his receiving skills, staying after practice to catch extra balls and working with Nick O'Leary to become a better all-around pass-catcher.
"I’ve actually learned a lot from him as far as route-running goes and stuff like that," said Christo. "He’s actually kind of a natural at it so I’ve picked up a lot of just little nuances from him that help a lot.”
Now number 83 just needs to put it all together on the field.
Saturday will go a long ways towards tell just how far he's come.
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