Tag Archives

4 Articles

Reports: Dan Vitale to join Buffalo Bills

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Reports: Dan Vitale to join Buffalo Bills
(Daily file photo by Nathan Richards)

Former Northwestern superback Dan Vitale has landed with the Buffalo Bills just a few days after being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ProFootballTalk and ESPN reported Sunday.

Buffalo claimed Vitale on waivers after he failed to make Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster in the preseason. The Buccaneers had selected Vitale in the 6th round (197th overall) of April’s NFL Draft.

With the Bills, Vitale will likely serve as the backup fullback to Glenn Gronkowski, younger brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Should Buffalo coach Rex Ryan choose to utilize the ex-Wildcat at tight end, Vitale would fight for playing time with Charles Clay, Jim Dray and Nick O’Leary.

Reports: Ex-Wildcats Dan Vitale, Kain Colter cut from 53-man rosters

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Reports: Ex-Wildcats Dan Vitale, Kain Colter cut from 53-man rosters
(Daily file photo by Jacob Swan)

Dan Vitale, Northwestern’s leading receiver in 2015, has been cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday morning.

Vitale was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (197th overall) by Tampa Bay as a fullback, but had shifted to tight end during the preseason. Undrafted free agent Alan Cross, a former walk-on at Memphis, beat out Vitale for a roster spot.

As a Wildcat, Vitale totaled 135 catches for 1427 yards. His 11 career receiving touchdowns are tied for 10th-most in program history.

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): Former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter has been released by the Buffalo Bills, the NFL Network reported.

Colter gained national fame after moving to unionize NU’s football team in January 2014. Two months later, the National Labor Relations Board for Region 13 ruled in favor of Cats players, establishing the College Athletes Players Association as a union and claiming the players are employees of the University.

However, the NLRB dismissed Colter’s petition by declining to rule on the case in August 2015, effectively declaring that student-athletes are not university employees.

With NU, Colter thrived in dual-QB system. He threw for 2,160 yards and 18 touchdowns against nine interceptions, rushed for 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns, and amassed 683 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He had transitioned to wide receiver and bounced around the NFL for a few years, including stops with the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams, before signing with Buffalo at the beginning of August.

Dan Vitale’s new role with Buccaneers evokes throwback term

Dan Vitale’s new role with Buccaneers evokes throwback term
(Daily file photo by Jacob Swan)

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Dan Vitale in April’s NFL Draft, it guaranteed a shot at a professional career for the former Northwestern superback. But his role as a professional was still very much in the air. Vitale was best known for his pass-catching work throughout his career and was the Wildcats’ leading receiver last season, but he spent the pre-draft process highlighting his willingness to block out of the backfield as a fullback.

With a player so versatile, it’s impossible to know how the Buccaneers will use Vitale until the pads are on. But an article on the Buccaneers’ team website gave some insight into the possibilities, including dropping a term that will make fans of retro football proud.

You won’t hear the word “wingback” on many NFL broadcasts these days. Those familiar with football history are most likely to use it in order to evoke memories of players like Johnny Rodgers, the Heisman Trophy winner at Nebraska in 1972.

Though the term wingback originated out of arcane offensive formations like the single-wing, today it is used to describe a hybrid role like the one Vitale is projected to play for the Buccaneers.

The story goes on to explain that the modern “wingback” role will involve much greater responsibilities in the passing game than it would have back in the day, and Vitale is currently listed as a tight end on the Buccaneers roster. After serving as the archetype of one unique position at NU, it would only be fitting for Vitale to bring back another one in the pros.

Dan Vitale drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dan Vitale drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang)

Superback Dan Vitale was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 22nd pick in the 6th round (197th overall) of the NFL Draft on Saturday. He is the second Wildcat to be drafted, after Dean Lowry was taken by the Green Bay Packers near the end of the 4th round.

Vitale led Northwestern in all receiving categories during his senior campaign, hauling in 33 catches for 355 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over his Wildcat career, the Wheaton, Illinois native totaled 135 catches for 1,427 yards, and his 11 career receiving touchdowns are tied for tenth-most in program history. Additionally, Vitale picked up second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015.

The Buccaneers had shown interest in Vitale leading up to the draft, hosting him for a private workout earlier this month. He also visited privately with the New England Patriots.

As the superback position does not exist in the NFL the Buccaneers drafted Vitale as a fullback, but he could also find snaps at tight end. He joins a Tampa Bay squad that finished 6-10 and in last place in the NFC South last season.