Alumni: Salamanca Native, Bartoszek to Play for Team USA in Rotary Gridiron Classic on Saturday
Former University at Buffalo tight end Chad Bartoszek (Salamanca, NY/Salamanca) will play for Team USA in the Fifth Annual Rotary Gridiron Classic College All-Star game this Saturday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 2 pm and will feature senior football players that hail from the state of Florida (Team Florida) versus the rest of the nation (Team USA). Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen and former Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell are co-coaches of Team USA while Central Florida head coach Mike Kruczek and Peter Vaas, head coach of the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe, will co-coach Team Florida.
Bartoszek arrived in Orlando late Sunday night and is undergoing five practices this week (three in full pads) in preparation for the game. The two-time All Mid-American Conference selection is joined on Team USA by Western Michigan's Mobolaji Afariogun, another All-MAC selection, giving the tight end spot a distinctive MAC feel.
"He and I are rooming together and it's been nice to have someone who I'm familiar with," said Bartoszek. "We're the only tight ends on the team, so I know we're going to play a lot. The plan right now is for us to alternate every series."
Bartoszek, who was among the nation's most productive tight ends his final two seasons with 88 receptions, said he is getting used to the competition.
"I was really nervous when I first got here," Bartoszek said. "You come up to the line of scrimmage and everyone has different helmets on - Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma. It was a little intimidating, but I think I've held my own. The difference between the big schools and schools like us is not as much as you'd think. Physically you can see only a slight difference, but technique-wise the guys are all great. You get a little taste of it in our season (the best competition), but here it's every play."
Bartoszek will be thrown to by quarterbacks Nate Hybl (Oklahoma) and Brooks Bollinger (Wisconsin).
"It's definitely exciting," Bartoszek said. "When I walked out on the field the first day I was definitely a little nervous, but after the first couple of hits it was just football again."