A benefit of playing tight end at Stanford -- becoming known as "tight end U" for its output of quality players at the position -- is that you don't have to look far to find experts in your desired field.
Not everyone can walk into their gym and train with a Super Bowl champion. But that has been the experience for Dalton Schultz, who has teamed up with Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles for the past two offseasons, including over the last handful of weeks during the leadup to the NFL draft.
"I come back to Stanford pretty much every offseason...Dalton last summer was training for his senior year, and I needed a guy to work on my blocking with, a guy that could watch my route technique and hold me accountable, and just another set of eyes," said Ertz in a conversation with ESPN. "We ended up working a lot together last summer and the kid worked his butt off with me. Anytime I was out there on the field working, he was out there with me."
According to Schultz, Ertz takes him and the other tight ends through drill work every Saturday, teaching them route trees and offering pointers on how to gain separation through their footwork.
"Having him in the weight room and out on the field to kind of like be that mentor that a young tight end would need is really valuable," said Schultz.
Schultz is set to become the latest Stanford tight end to play in the NFL. Ertz, Coby Fleener, Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper are among the Cardinal TEs currently in the league. He is expected to go off the board between rounds 2-4 in this month's draft. The 6-foot-5, 244-pound Utah native has already had workouts with the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans, and has a workout scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, he said.
His measurables are strikingly similar to Ertz's, from size to arm and hand length to 40 times. Their games, though are different. Ertz has long been a top-notch pass catcher who has improved his blocking year by year. Schultz is an underrated receiver and route runner, according to Ertz -- he had 22 catches for 212 yards with three touchdowns this past season -- but his biggest strength is his blocking at the point of attack.
Given the complementing styles and the void left by Brent Celek and Trey Burton this offseason, Schultz to the Eagles makes some sense. Ertz says he has floated the idea past management, while Schultz called landing on the same team with one of his Stanford brethren "dangerous to hope for, but it would be a cherry-on-top type thing."
Schultz knows he will have a network to lean on regardless.
"I think that's kind of a Stanford thing," he said. "People at Stanford, it doesn't matter what year you were, where you came from, who you are, there's just kind of a bond between all the players. They say Stanford recruits a very specific type of person, and I think that's completely true, especially when you see the connection that even the young guys have with older guys who might have come a few years before them."
Added Ertz: "I have had a lot of great role models in my life, guys that really didn't have any reason to help me out but were willing to take the time out of their day to help me out. So I feel a little bit of a responsibility to help out whoever I can."