Vaught's Views: Dunn still productive NFL player

September 15, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Jason Dunn didn't have the flashy high school or college career like Craig Yeast and Dennis Johnson, two other Harrodsburg High School football players.

Yeast was a consensus all-state pick. He went to Kentucky and, thanks to some help from a quarterback named Tim Couch, became UK's all-time leading receiver. He played for the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets before his NFL career ended with two-plus years of experience.

Johnson was named Kentucky's Mr. Football in 1997 when he was also picked as the national defensive player of the year. He turned down chances to sign with Notre Dame and Florida to stay home and play defensive end for Kentucky. He set a school record for quarterback sacks and bypassed his senior season at UK to make himself eligible for the 2002 NFL draft. He's now in his second season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Dunn was not exactly an unknown. He was that rare four-sport standout - football, basketball, baseball and track - in high school and played middle linebacker, offensive tackle, fullback, wide receiver and even quarterback for the Pioneers.


He was not highly recruited even though he had size and speed. He went to Eastern Kentucky and helped the Colonels make the Division I-AA playoffs four straight times. He had 41 receptions for 615 yards and three touchdowns, not bad for a tight end in Roy Kidd's run-oriented offense. He even ran 19 times for 199 yards that included touchdown jaunts of 68 and 55 yards.

Dunn was so versatile that Kidd used him as a part-time defensive lineman to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Eagles drafted him in 1996

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Dunn in 1996 and he made an immediate impact with 15 catches for 332 yards and two scores. Six of his catches were for 24 yards or more, one reason he made numerous all-rookie teams.

He played three years with the Eagles and started 26 games. He had 40 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns. However, the Eagles let him go and he did not play in 1999.

Rather than call it quits, Dunn went back to work on his game and conditioning. He impressed the Kansas City Chiefs enough to earn a contract for the 2000 season. He played in 14 games as a backup tight end and even got two starts.

He's been with the Chiefs ever since. He played in 40 games, with 12 starts, from 2000-2002 even though he had just eight catches, or one every five games, because he's developed into such a valuable blocker.

This season he started the opening game and then had one of those memorable moments Sunday. He caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Trent Green in the third quarter of a 41-20 win over Pittsburgh that had national TV football analysts noting that most fans wouldn't even know who Dunn was.

It was his first touchdown catch since 2001 and only the sixth of his NFL career (he had two in 1996 and two more in 1997). In fact, he only had two catches all of last year.

However, while he's not hit paydirt often, he's cashed a lot of NFL checks during his eight-year career that now includes a relatively unknown, but impressive, 83 games.

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