Daily Egyptian

Saluki alumnus ready to catch NFL opportunity

Then-SIU senior tight end MyCole Pruitt catches the ball for a first down Sept. 20, 2014, during the first half of the Salukis’ 35-13 loss against Purdue University at Ross-Ade Field in West Lafayette, Ind. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

When the NFL Draft begins Thursday in Chicago, former Saluki MyCole Pruitt will be in St. Louis waiting on a call. 

Pruitt — statistically one of SIU’s best receivers all-time — has been predicted to be drafted in any of the seven rounds or not at all by different sources. 

Pruitt said he has talked with most teams in the league and has no idea when he will be drafted.

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“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” he said. “I’m ready to take whatever opportunity presents itself.” 

SIU football coach Dale Lennon said he will be paying attention and hopes Pruitt is drafted on Friday — rounds two and three — and would be shocked if he went in the first.

“If you go Friday, you’re in that bigger salary range,” he said. “The first round would exceed my expectations, but stranger things have happened.”

Lennon said he does not think Pruitt’s size will hurt his draft stock because if a team wants a big, blocking tight end — which Pruitt is not — they will get one. 

“If they want a hybrid… then [Pruitt] is a perfect fit,” Lennon said. “Then size factor is not a big issue. A high-tempo type offense will want to use his skill set.” 

Pruitt previously said blocking was one of the aspects of his game he needed to work on. 

Pruitt is listed as 6 feet 2 inches and 251 pounds. Of the 150 tight ends currently in the NFL, there are six the same height or shorter. There are four tight ends weighing 251 pounds. 

Although he is shorter than most, Pruitt’s weight is in the majority of tight ends. 49 of 150 tight ends weigh 251 to 260 pounds. 

The most notable 251-pound tight end is Coby Fleener of the Indianapolis Colts. 

Last season, Fleener finished the season No. 8 in receiving yards among tight ends with 774 yards on 51 receptions. 

Delanie Walker, of the Tennessee Titans, who is 6 feet tall, was No. 4 among tight ends with 890 receiving yards. 

Lennon said Pruitt has always had the confidence to perform at a higher level. 

“[Pruitt] has always believed in his abilities, which is something you have to have,” he said. “It became evident after his sophomore year he was capable of playing in the NFL.” 

Pruitt said when he started playing football, it was to get out of the house and have a good time. Early in his career, he never thought of the NFL as a possibility. 

In his sophomore year Pruitt collected 577 yards on 49 attempts averaging 52.5 yards per game. 

This was the point at which Lennon and Pruitt both thought the NFL was a possibility.

“After sophomore year, when I had two pretty good seasons, then there was some interest,” he said. “That’s when I realized if I work as hard as I can, I can definitely make it.” 

For his career, Pruitt is No. 1 all-time at SIU with 221 receptions and is No. 2 all-time in career yards and touchdowns with 2,601 and 25 respectively. 

In his senior year, Pruitt caught 81 passes for 13 touchdowns and 861 receiving yards which are first, second and fifth respectively for season highs all-time at SIU. 

Lennon said he usually fields calls from NFL teams about former players on the days of the draft, and he said there are many ways to sell Pruitt to a team. 

“He is going to catch the football,” he said. “There’s a lot of solid characteristics [Pruitt] has that teams will like.”

Lennon said he hopes he will be able to see Pruitt play wherever he ends up.

“When you see them out there playing on Sunday you smile to yourself,” he said. “You enjoy their success.”

Twenty four former Salukis have made their way to the NFL since 1955 with six players drafted in the first three rounds. Offensive tackle Lionel Antoine was drafted with the third overall pick by the Chicago Bears in 1972. 

The NFL Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago. 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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