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C-Mac
05-04-2005, 07:58 AM
GRETZ: A Very "Big" Long Shot
May 04, 2005, 6:34:13 AM by Bob Gretz



When your life story includes time spent in a refugee camp, then a rookie mini-camp didn’t figure to be much of a problem.



Don’t tell that to Will Svitek, however.

“Yeah, I’m not so sure about that,” Svitek said with a smile. “I don’t remember a lot about the refugee camp my family was in, but I know coming in here, trying to learn this offense, right now, it’s harder than anything I ever had at Stanford.”

How Will Svitek came to be at the Truman Sports Complex last weekend for the Chiefs rookie camp is an amazing American success story. It’s one that has not yet had its final chapter written.

That will come in the next few months and years as Svitek tries to make a spot for himself in the NFL. Whether or not we ever see the 6-6, 300-pounder in a red and gold uniform for a regular-season game remains a long shot. A sixth-round draft pick, making the move from the defensive line to offensive line and to a position he’s never played before, well, there’s a lot of learning and practice time ahead before Svitek has any chance of cracking the roster.

But he has three things going for him: his background/personality, the Chiefs history with late-round offensive linemen and offensive line coach Mike Solari.

Let’s start with Solari, who is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the business. His strength is his ability to teach the fundamentals of the game. Given the fact that Svitek’s only experience on the offensive side of the ball was at tight end, he’s lacking any and all background in playing tackle. He couldn’t have a better coach to help him make the transition.

At Stanford, Svitek arrived as a tight end, was moved to defensive end and played both positions in two games during the 2002 season. He was moved back to defense for his final two seasons. It was at the East-West Shrine Game back in January that NFL teams began talking to him about playing tackle. Although he worked on defense during the game, he spent some of the practice work taking snaps on offense.

It was 10 years ago that the Chiefs used a seventh-round draft choice on an athlete who had spent time being juggled back and forth between offense and defense during his college career. As they went to training camp in 1990, the chances of Dave Szott making the roster were slim and none. Of course, Szott not only made the roster, but he also became a starter and spent the decade playing left guard for the Chiefs.

Szott was a very good athlete (he was one of the top high school wrestlers in the country before he went to Penn State.) Svitek is also a very good athlete. As a teenager, he won national decathlon titles, while also playing high school football and basketball. On his workout day for NFL scouts back in March, he was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.93 seconds, bench pressed 225 pounds 33 times and had a vertical jump of 32 inches. All are outstanding numbers, but the speed and jumping numbers standout for a guy that weighs over 300 pounds. Szott was also helped by his scrappy personality. Ditto Svitek. There were three altercations during the rookie mini-camp and he was involved in all three.

Svitek’s greatest asset is very simply who he is and what he’s already accomplished in his life. He was born in Czechoslovakia, the fourth of four boys for Milan and Eva Svitek. His father was a hammer thrower on the Czech national track team. Milan chafed under the Communist rule that ran the country and the lifestyle it created.

One night, when Will Svitek was just two years old, the family left their home near Prague, drove nearly 100 miles under the cover or darkness and walked across an unguarded area of the border between Czechoslovakia and Austria.

“We couldn’t tell anyone what we were going to do,” Svitek said. “Not even other people in our family knew what was going on. We left with the clothes on our backs.”

The defecting Sviteks spent eight months in a refugee camp in Austria. “We lived in these little cabins, the whole family in one room,” he remembered. “I don’t have a lot of memories of that time, but I do remember that we were living in this very small place and there was no room to move.”

Eventually, the family immigrated to the United States, landing in Pasadena, California. Nobody in the family could speak English and the family was stuffed into a cramped apartment, but Milan and Eva immediately went to work, taking menial jobs and getting the family back on its feet. Eventually, they moved to Ventura County, where their youngest became the typical All-American boy, getting involved in sports of all sorts.

Svitek had the football skills and grades at Newbury Park High School to earn a scholarship to Stanford. He’s already earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. He arrived in Palo Alto as a 235-pound freshman and kept getting bigger. He was 255 pounds in his second year, 270 pounds in the third, 280 pounds by his fourth year and last year, he played at just under 300 pounds. Right now he’s just a tad over 300 pounds.

He has the brains, the brawn and the athletic ability to overcome the odds. The Chiefs have seen it done before. Will Svitek has done it before.

“I just wanted to get in here, get my head in the playbook, work on the fundamentals on a daily basis and get after this,” Svitek said.

jcl-kcfan2
05-04-2005, 08:10 AM
A guy with that kind of athletic and intellectual abilities being trained for the offensive line by one of the best in the business.
Even though he will have a long way to go, Solari won't have a bunch of bad habits to break on the kid, he will be able to mold him more effectively.

Sound to me like this kid has a good chance if he just lets Solari take over.

dave0320
05-04-2005, 08:15 AM
I'm impressed with all of our rookies. It would be great if they all made the team this year.

patteeu
05-04-2005, 08:19 AM
That guy is HUGE. I hope he makes it.

C-Mac
05-04-2005, 08:19 AM
A guy with that kind of athletic and intellectual abilities being trained for the offensive line by one of the best in the business.
Even though he will have a long way to go, Solari won't have a bunch of bad habits to break on the kid, he will be able to mold him more effectively.

Sound to me like this kid has a good chance if he just lets Solari take over.

:thumb:

Skip Towne
05-04-2005, 08:36 AM
Great story! I hope he makes it.

the Talking Can
05-04-2005, 08:39 AM
Didn't Waters move from the DL to OL as well?

I trust Solari more than any coach on this team.

Idahored
05-04-2005, 08:44 AM
Didn't Waters move from the DL to OL as well?

I trust Solari more than any coach on this team.

Nope, TE to OL. This kid reminds me of him.

Cochise
05-04-2005, 08:46 AM
Didn't Waters move from the DL to OL as well?

I trust Solari more than any coach on this team.

I thought he played both ways in college, on the d-line or something. He played center for us a few times. :shrug:

milkman
05-04-2005, 08:49 AM
This is a nice story.
I hope the kid makes it.

But at the same time, I hope the Cheifs, because of their previous success with Szott and Waters, don't become enamored with the concept the same way they did with the safety to CB conversion concept.

the Talking Can
05-04-2005, 08:55 AM
This is a nice story.
I hope the kid makes it.

But at the same time, I hope the Chiefs, because of their previous success with Szott and Waters, don't become enamored with the concept the same way they did with the safety to CB conversion concept.

the difference being he's a 6th rounder, so it won't hurt us it doesn't pan out...unlike Bartee and Battle [puke]

Cochise
05-04-2005, 08:55 AM
This is a nice story.
I hope the kid makes it.

But at the same time, I hope the Chiefs, because of their previous success with Szott and Waters, don't become enamored with the concept the same way they did with the safety to CB conversion concept.

Maybe we are to O-lineman what the donks are to running backs?

I suppose there are different coaching staffs in place now, but it's strange that we made a project guy like Waters into a pro-bowl guard, but they couldn't make a first rounder like Jenkins into lineman good enough to start in the NFL.

milkman
05-04-2005, 09:05 AM
Maybe we are to O-lineman what the donks are to running backs?

I suppose there are different coaching staffs in place now, but it's strange that we made a project guy like Waters into a pro-bowl guard, but they couldn't make a first rounder like Jenkins into lineman good enough to start in the NFL.


Although Jenkins was a first rounder in the draft, he wasn't first round material, and was considered a project by everyone.

So, in reality, it really isn't that strange.
Some guys are coachable, some aren't.
In the end, it probably comes down to who wants it more.

milkman
05-04-2005, 09:07 AM
the difference being he's a 6th rounder, so it won't hurt us it doesn't pan out...unlike Bartee and Battle [puke]

Good point.
At least if it doesn't work, no one, myself included, will be looking back and talking about the 6th round pick Carl pissed away.

StcChief
05-04-2005, 10:23 AM
We need good smart guys to who want succeed in the NFL on our team Period.

Solari has the skills to turn this guy into the next OL man for the future.

Spicy McHaggis
05-04-2005, 11:41 AM
My adopt-a-chief is the next Solari success story. You've got to hand it to the Chiefs, despite their personel whiffs they seem to do an outstanding job in finding and refinging OL talent in every nook and cranny.