Wycheck gets his NFL wish Redskins give former Terp shot to catch on at tight end

April 27, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins gave Frank Wycheck the one thing he has wanted all his life: a chance to make it in pro football.

"I've been playing football since I was 5 years old. This is like the pinnacle of my career," Wycheck, a former Maryland tight end, said yesterday after the Redskins drafted him on the sixth round.

"This is just the steppingstone for a pro career. This is what I always wanted it to come down to: to get drafted by a team and then see what I can do at this level. . . . I knew I was never going to get drafted in the first round. All I wanted was to get in camp and show my athletic ability."

Wycheck decided to pass up his final year at Maryland because he had been phased out in the team's run-and-shoot offense.

Although he was downgraded by most scouts after a subpar combine workout while suffering from the flu, Wycheck said his strength isn't off-season workouts, but playing during the season.

"I think that's my best quality -- playing football, not running for times and jumping and doing all the agility [drills]. I think I play football well," he said.

Wycheck's selection was the Redskins' most intriguing move as they wound up the draft by taking four more players. Besides Wycheck, they selected center Greg Huntington of Penn State, safety Darryl Morrison of Arizona and linebacker Lamont Hollinquest of Southern California.

Wycheck, the only player drafted from Maryland, and the Redskins 7p,14l could wind up being a perfect match. The Redskins put a lot of emphasis on tight ends, and they have an opening because Don Warren has retired. Wycheck will be competing with Ray Rowe, a sixth-round draft choice last year, for a spot.

"I think it's perfect for me," Wycheck said. "Washington is the team I always thought I could play for. I know the offense by just watching them every week. Everyone said Washington is a great place for me to play. I just can't believe it came true today."

General manager Charley Casserly said he judged Wycheck on film during his 1991 season, when he caught 45 passes, and not on his 1992 season, when he dropped off to 31 receptions because the tight end doesn't have a major role in the run-and-shoot.

"This is going to be one of the interesting picks for us because of his versatility," Casserly said. "He was very productive catching the football. He's a pass-catching tight end [the Redskins will use him as an H-back] who also played wide receiver and running back.

"He came out a year early, and sometimes you're getting more for your money that way [because players can upgrade themselves with a good senior season]," Casserly said.

Wycheck said there was no point in returning for a senior year because he no longer fit in the Maryland offense. "If I was in the flow of things at Maryland, I definitely would have stayed," he said.

"I have no regrets toward Coach [Mark] Duffner and the Maryland program. I had to leave a great program that was on the rise. It was a matter of circumstances. That's the way the system was, and I had to grin and bear it. I was going from playing 80 plays a game to being cut drastically to 10 or 15. Anyone who goes from playing and being in the spotlight for two years and [then] not playing at all, it's tough. But I didn't complain. I didn't want to take anything away from the team."

Wycheck counted on a good showing at the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis in February to boost his stock, but then he came down with the flu.

"I lost a lot of weight, and I weighed in at 232 pounds [he said he's now 246]. I wasn't able to be at my peak, and I was disappointed in my 40 time," he said.

When scouts came to Maryland after the combine to evaluate the Terps, the players had to cope with bad weather.

"It was raining and snowing and the wind was kicking up. How can you get a good workout running in weather like that?" said Wycheck, who is 6 feet 3. "I think it hurt a lot of Maryland players. The other teams have a slight advantage with an indoor facility. ++ It's crazy that you've got scouts going back to their organizations with bad times."

Wycheck still managed to get his 4.91 combine time down to 4.8 and then was running in the 4.7s when the weather got better.

Casserly was happy with the 4.8 clocking.

"That's fine for a tight end," he said. "He's probably the fastest tight end we have. We don't have speed at tight end."

Wycheck is confident he'll make the most of this chance. "Once I start playing, I think I can do well," he said.

Besides wrapping up their draft and starting the search for free agents, the Redskins brought in their top two draft picks, Tom Carter and Reggie Brooks, for a look.

They learned they grabbed Brooks, a running back from Notre Dame, just before the Dallas Cowboys were ready to take him. The Cowboys had a scout at his home in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday and were planning to take him with the final pick on the first round. They then traded down in the second round with the Green Bay Packers, thinking he would be available there.

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