Aaron Rodgers helping Kansas' Tarik Black toward NFL opportunities
A chance encounter has led to a possible -- even if slight -- change in career paths for the former Memphis and Kansas power forward.
Once upon a time, we here at CBSSports.com ranked Tarik Black as the 41st best player in college basketball. That was in 2011.
We were wrong.
But still, Black went on to have a decent college hoops career, one that ended in March when Kansas was felled in the Round of 32 by Stanford. Now his life could get really interesting.
Yahoo Sports writer Eric Adelson has a piece up on Black's NFL future -- or the possibililty of it. How did this even become a thing? A chance run-in with Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Bill Self at an airport. Adelson writes that encounter led to Rodgers going to Lawrence, Kansas, in January to talk to the team.
And from there, Rodgers met Black, the former Memphis power forward who spent this past season as a graduate-student transfer playing one final year with the Jayhawks. It's hard not to see how Black might have a chance at the pro football level on basic DNA alone. He's 6-feet-9 and easily between 250 and 260 pounds. Pure athlete, all muscle; he was said to dominate in practices much more than in games.
The catch? Black has never played football. Ever. But that didn't stop Rodgers from wanting to see more. Here's a quip from Adelson's piece, leading with a quote from Black.
"Green Bay is my favorite team. I told him, 'Hey, I understand you're hurt; we need you healthy. We need a championship.' Then he says, 'You should help me win it. Come play some tight end.' So I say, 'Give me a contract and make it happen.'"
Black thought the whole interchange was a joke. Apparently Rodgers did not. The Packers passer went to Self and said, "I want to throw balls at him and see what he can do."
And considering Black is 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, and had more than one foul for every two points last season, that made sense. (The Kansas bio calls him "a bruising forward.") It all just shocked Black.
"One of the guys in our media department said, 'Aaron Rodgers likes you. Likes you a lot,'" he recalls. Black laughed it off. Then he heard this: "No, he really likes you. He wants you to try out for Green Bay."
It still didn't register. Even when Black was handed Rodgers' cell phone number, he refused to text the former MVP for a month.
Eventually he did, and Rodgers was at the ready to help him. Pretty wild, right? Super Bowl MVP gets a look at you in college, playing basketball, and thinks you have a shot in the NFL. Per the story, three NFL teams have knocked on Black's door. He's not expected to be drafted, but that makes sense given his background.
Black is still chasing basketball, but he's not going to be drafted by the NBA, either. He'll have options, it seems, and that's a great position to be in.
Black is like Erik Swoope. Who? Former Miami Hurricanes ... basketball player. He's also just finishing school and is also getting looks from the NFL -- despite precisely zero experience playing the game in an organized manner.
It could wind up being an interesting test period for the next possible wave of college hoops players who get a shot at the gridiron. If Florida beast Patric Young opts to not chase basketball, I had a few scouts tell me last season he'd have a good shot at making an NFL roster for minicamp, at least.
So with that, any number of teams could opt to take a chance, post-draft, and bring in these guys for a workout. If they thrive, they get a great athlete on the cheap and offer up a physical specimen unlike what many others can offer, given the size of these players. With former college basketball players like Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas changing how tight end is played, it's no surprise to see this trend continue.
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