CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) — Zack Kuntz’s size catches your eye, and his skill as a tight end has made him one of the top prospects in his position ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Camp Hill three-sport athlete was drafted in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the New York Jets with the 220th overall pick.
Spending three years as a Penn State tight end, then transferring to Old Dominion as a graduate transfer, Kuntz turned heads in March at the NFL Combine.
“I actually texted him the day before the Combine and said ‘make sure you kill it’,” said Kuntz high school coach Frank Gay. “He goes ‘that’s the plan, coach.'”
The athletic 6’7 Kuntz posted the best or second best numbers in all categories amongst tight ends.
“I was a well-rounded athlete through high school,” Kuntz said. “[Track is] always been something I can hang my hat on and the Combine is basically like a track meet.”
His success at the Combine didn’t surprise those that knew him. Kuntz won the PIAA State Championship in the 110-meter hurdles as a junior at Camp Hill. He competed in various events throughout his three seasons of high school track.
“I knew I was going to be able to test well [at the Combine],” Kuntz said. “It was just a matter of going out there and take care of business.”
NFL TE prospect Zack Kuntz put on a show at the NFL Combine, but it didn’t surprise Camp Hill.— Allie Berube (@allieberube) April 26, 2023
“The Combine is basically like a track meet.”
Check out @zackkuntz_717 win the PIAA State Championship in 110m hurdles as a junior.@GoCHAthletics | Watch #NFLDraft on @abc27News pic.twitter.com/yR1q49FNWN
Just because Kuntz is athletic, doesn’t mean his football career has come easy to him. Coach Gay saw Kuntz raw size and ability as an eighth grader, but it took time to develop into one of the top tight ends.
“We referred to him as a baby giraffe,” Gay said of Kuntz at the start of high school. “He was very skilled, but he just needed to grow into it and understand that he has those skills. He started as a freshman and he was really, really good. But as he matured, he got really good and grew into his body.”
Zack says the Camp Hill coaching staff instilled a work ethic in him, working with the Lions coaches to learn how to catch, and utilize his size and strength to his advantage.
“When you get kids like that, it’s a once in a lifetime kid,” Gay said. “You just don’t have that opportunity that many times in your career.”
As a senior, Zack committed to Penn State as one of the top tight ends in the country. In three seasons with the Nittany Lions, Zack didn’t see the field much.
“He had [current Steelers tight end] Pat Freiermuth in front of him,” Gay said. “How can you fault a kid that has that guy in front of you? I think the best move that he could have made was to go to Old Dominion and to get on the field and show that he has skills.”
He did graduate from Penn State with his undergraduate degree, before transferring to Old Dominion University in 2021.
“I’m proud of that,” Kuntz said. “I’m a proud alumni there and I’ll have that the rest of my life. I made tremendous relationships there and was surrounded by such a great supporting cast of teammates, coaches, mentors.”
One of those relationships brought him to ODU. His high school quarterback and former PSU teammate Michael Shuster was a grad assistant at the time for the Monarchs. And Zack’s production on the field was a different story at Old Dominion. In 2021, Kuntz caught 73 passes for 692 yards and five touchdowns.
“Your outcome is determined by the adversity you face or certain hardships that are on your path,” Kuntz said. “I think it really matters about how you respond to them and how you allow it to shape the trajectory of your career,”
Zack is one of a big Kuntz family, the son of Kitty and Francis. His dad played football at Maryland. There’s almost enough Kuntz kids to field a football team, Zack has three brothers and a sister. His brother Christian played football at Penn State, and sister, Anna, played basketball at West Chester.
“I was born and raised right there in Camp Hill,” Kuntz said. “I definitely take a lot of pride in it. It’s a tight knit community there in Camp Hill and the 717 as a whole. I have a big support system in my family, my loving parents, we’re all close knit group.”
As Kuntz takes the next step in his football career, it’s his roots on Market Street in Camp Hill that ground him.
“That’s a great kid in a small community that is now going to be on the world stage,” Gay said.
The 2023 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29. You can watch the 2023 NFL Draft live on abc27 throughout Thursday to Saturday.