Ex-Hawkeye TE Jake Duzey gets his NFL 'shot' with the Colts

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Former Iowa tight end Jake Duzey’s football dream is still alive.

Duzey, who twice tore the patellar tendon in his left knee and hasn’t played a meaningful snap in 28 months, has been invited to the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie mini-camp May 12-14, he told The Register on Monday.

“It’s a shot,” Duzey said. “… Teams still don’t know if my knee’s going to hold up. I’m hoping this three-day camp will prove to somebody that I’m good to go again.”

Jake Duzey is shown during the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2014. His last full game was Jan. 2, 2015, in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The former Iowa tight end missed most of his senior season, save a few snaps, with recovering from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

Duzey has been training near his hometown of Troy, Mich., to prepare for an NFL audition. He performed well on Iowa’s pro day March 27, recording a 4.62-second 40-yard dash and a 34-inch vertical jump.

But he also pulled a quadriceps that day, delaying his chances to work out for any NFL teams. Now, at least, he’s been given a chance. 

“I knew it was going to pretty much come down to a rookie mini-camp invite,” he said.

Duzey, who measured 6-foot-3½ and 245 pounds on pro day, was a productive tight end at Iowa. He had accumulated 58 catches for 678 yards ahead of a highly anticipated senior year.

But he injured his knee on the 14th spring practice in 2015, and then, after trying to come back too quickly, hurt it again in the final days before the 2016 Rose Bowl.

Sixteen months later, he’s got a shot in front of the Colts' people. He might get invited back; he might not. A good showing will, at minimum, help his chances of getting another shot elsewhere.

This isn't the same as signing as an undrafted free agent, like former Hawkeyes Cole Croston, LeShun Daniels Jr., Greg Mabin and Riley McCarron did over the weekend — he'll only have three days to prove himself.

“If you turn some heads and do something good,” Duzey said, "hopefully you get invited to stay with them.”

What about Duzey’s 2015 rehab partner, Drew Ott? The former Iowa defensive end, who has faced repeated setbacks after surgery to repair the torn ACL he suffered in the middle of the 2015 season, is still rehabbing, he told The Register on Monday.

Ott is hoping to get a training-camp shot later this summer but isn’t quite ready.

“Still working,” he said via text message. “It’s going good.”