PHILADELPHIA – Eagles tight end Zach Ertz wanted to go to UCLA. The idea of living in Los Angeles, being near all those celebrities, seemed pretty good to the 18-year-old Ertz.
It was his mother who convinced him to go to Stanford instead.
“Living in the Bay Area,” Ertz said, “she always knew about Stanford. So my mom said I was going to Stanford. She made the best decision I ever made.”
When he got to Stanford, Ertz heard about the Cardinal’s new quarterback, a kid named Andrew Luck.
“The first day, I knew Andrew was special,” Ertz said. “The throws he made in practice were unbelievable. His composure on the field is second to none. He’s really intelligent, obviously.”
Ertz and Luck took many classes together, and they were competitive even in getting good grades. Luck left for the NFL a year before Ertz, but he helped Ertz establish himself as an elite tight end prospect. The Eagles took Ertz in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Ertz will be reunited with Luck on Monday night when the Eagles face the Indianapolis Colts. As it happens, Ertz is now catching passes from Nick Foles, another Pac-12 quarterback who was selected in the 2012 draft. The Eagles took Foles in the third round from Arizona. Luck, of course, went No. 1 overall.
As a rookie, Ertz developed a chemistry with Foles. He made 29 of his 36 receptions, including all four touchdowns, after Foles took over as the starting quarterback. Ertz caught a touchdown pass in Sunday’s season opener against Jacksonville.
Although he focused on improving as a blocker during the offseason, Ertz said he’s also a more complete receiver now.
“I think I’ve improved the whole area of my game,” Ertz said. “I feel faster. The game’s slowed down to me, where I’m able to set guys up on my routes, whereas last year I was almost running the lines on the paper that they would draw up for me. I feel more comfortable out there. Nick and I are on the same page, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Ertz has a long way to go in his career. He’s already come quite a distance. Thanks to his mother and a little Luck, Ertz made it from Stanford to Philadelphia with no trouble.