Ravens rookie tight end Dennis Pitta lived in California a 49ers fan, and growing up as a wide receiver-tight end prospect, one of the people he idolized was Ravens tight end Todd Heap.
Now, the former BYU tight end is not only a teammate of Heap’s, he is trying to pick his brain at the team’s mini-camps in Owings Mills before Pitta signs before training camp.
“I have Todd Heap as a mentor and someone to look after,” Pitta told Drew Forrester this morning. “I feel fortunate to have him ahead of me to learn from.”
And if Pitta can learn from Heap, it could make him one of the best, complete tight ends in the league if he progresses well.
Pitta has no where to go but up.
In 2003, Pitta walked on to BYU as a wide-receiver/tight end prospects and earned himself a scholarship. Backing up starting tight end Daniel Coats, he got his opportunity when Coats got hurt, and Pitta saw more action.
After taking a two year Mormon mission to the Dominican Republic, he returned to the Cougars better than ever. In 2007, he recorded 59 receptions for 813 yards and five scores, earning himself all first-team Mountain West honors.
2008 was an even better season for Pitta, who went over 1000 yards and added six TDs. He was a Biletnikoff and Mackey Award finalist. He was named a third-team All-American.
Pitta said the modeled his game after Heap, who was a similar kind of tight end when Heap was at Arizona State in the late 1990’s.
“I think Todd Heap was a player I looked at in college,” Pitta said. “He’s a great receiver and he catches the ball well. He’s a complete tight end.”
And with Heap being that complete tight end, if Pitta has to improve in some area, it would be in his blocking. They didn’t the run the ball that much at BYU, and the Ravens have always used that two tight end blocking scheme and run the ball out of it. That’s where Pitta will have to fit in.
“I think the bigger adjustment is mental,” Pitta noted. “Obviously there’s a physical adjustment as well, but the biggest part is the mental part cause you’re trying to learn a whole new system.”
Pitta was actually surprised to be a Raven, not because he didnt think he was good enough, but because the Ravens took another tight end before him in Oregon tight end Ed Dickson.
“After they took Ed, it was a little bit of a surprise coming back and drafting me. I’m now in a good situation and I’m excited to be a Raven.”
Something else Pitta has learned? To hate the Steelers with a passion. That seems fine for Pitta, who can continue being a 49ers fan.
“I haven’t had a taste of that rivalry,” Pitta said. “But I’m excited to play them. They’re telling me to dislike them, so I guess I have to.”