Mr. Tight-End

Channels Staff, Channels Staff, and Channels Staff

Sophomore Vaquero tight end Dudley LaPorte could be well on his way to catching passes in the nation’s top college football conference.

Standing 6’4 and weighing 255 pounds, LaPorte already has recently received a scholarship offer from the Ole Miss Rebels of the powerhouse Southeastern Conference. But his true passion is to follow in the footsteps of NFL tight ends Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Shockey and Ben Olsen, among others.

“I want to go to Miami,” LaPorte said after last Saturday’s win 34-23 over East Los Angeles. Boston College as well as the Miami Hurricanes recruited him during high school at the Milford Academy in Stratford, Connecticut, but LaPorte didn’t have the grades to qualify for a scholarship.

Currently his only offers have come from Ole Miss and the University of Nevada at Reno, but the talented tight end said he would rather play on his native east coast.

According to head coach Craig Moropoulos, LaPorte has received eight letters from Ole Miss, all hand written from different members of the coaching staff. Although Ole Miss may not be one of the best programs in the SEC, it will draw maximum exposure and allow him to face the best defenses in the country on a weekly basis.

So far this season, LaPorte leads the Vaqueros in receiving with 25 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns. But not only does he have great hands and athleticism, he ran an NFL quality 4.59 second 40-yard dash this past summer.

With the departure of vertical threat Ernie Pierce to Kansas State, LaPorte, along side Hunter Easterling, have become the team’s top downfield weapons and have drawn double coverage from opposing defenses. However, he knows that double-teaming him can open things up for his teammates.

“I’ve seen double coverage the past few weeks but I know I can beat it with my speed and size,” LaPorte said. “But at the same time I’m not selfish because double-teaming me will leave our wide receivers and running backs open.”

“He’s one of the best team players I’ve ever been around,” Moropoulos said. “He doesn’t care if he has one catch, no catches, or ten catches. He plays hard every snap, and I’m talking about practice, walk throughs and games. He’s got one of the best work ethics that I’ve ever seen.”

Moropoulos also pointed out that LaPorte takes notes during film sessions and team meetings to better prepare himself for game situations, something that he rarely sees from other players.

“He’s really bought into the fact that that’s what you have to do to become a great player,” Moropoulos said.

One key part of a tight end’s game that may be a little less noticeable than what shows up on the stat sheet is blocking. The truly great tight ends are the ones who have great pass catching ability as well as the ability to run block effectively. At 255 pounds, LaPorte has dominated defenders on the line of scrimmage this season with his great size and strength making him a great aid to the team’s running game.

LaPorte chose to come play ball in Santa Barbara because his brother is a student at UCSB, and the 3,000 mile transition could be made a little easier by having a familiar roommate.

“It’s kind of easy, because it’s slow out here,” LaPorte said. “Everything on the East Coast is fast.”