Apr 26, 2011
Making the jump to the next level is difficult enough as it is for a college football player. Approximately 2.4 percent of them make it to the NFL.
And that becomes increasingly more difficult when injuries plague not one, not two, but three of your college football seasons. That's what former North Carolina tight end Zack Pianalto dealt with — and he's still going to be right there in the mix on draft day.
Pianalto was one of 12 Tar Heels to be invited to the NFL scouting combine and was also one of 19 players that participated in UNC's Pro Day a few weeks back.
But it's not surprise that the No. 1 issue that teams are bringing up is his durability.
"And you can't blame them," Pianalto told Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9 The Fan.
Pianalto missed the final four games in 2008 with a broken left fibula. In 2009 he missed a large chunk of the season with a dislocated foot. And last season he missed the final seven games of the season with a broken right fibula.
"And it's a valid concern that teams have, but all my injuries were pretty legitimate in that they were a broken bone or a dislocated foot and things that thankfully heal back to 100 percent," Pianalto said.
"I feel like there are durability issues but I might play however long I'm blessed to play in the NFL and never have another injury or I can be hurt on the first play. It's just one of those things that's up to fate."
When asked to review his work done in the past season Pianalto said it was "devastating" to have his season cut short due to injury once again. He already had 30 catches in just six games (he's still UNC's all-time leader in receptions by a TE with 95) and would have put a huge pad on his record. He still said that his time at UNC prepared him for the opportunity he's about to have.
Of course Pianalto's injury was a fraction of the Tar Heel's story in 2010. NCAA investigations gave them several team issues to face. Gold asked him if all those problems made last season more fun in a way.
"If you wanted to twist it a little bit I think you could get that way. It was very exciting to see guys step up.....guys you never heard of before, guys that were on practice squads two weeks prior. It was a really special year and I think Carolina football will be so much better moving forward for that."
Pianalto won't be doing anything special for this weekend's draft. He's back in his hometown of Springdale, Ark with his family. He admits that Saturday is "more realistic" for when he might get a phone call. So he'll have his phone right by his side.