By Zachary Lucero
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Summer has not been all fun and games for two former Cardinals, linebacker Myke Tavarres and tight end Cole Wick, who signed National Football League (NFL) free agent contracts in late April.
Tavarres, 23, signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and Wick, 22, signed with the Detroit Lions, making them the first two Cardinals to sign NFL contracts since the University of the Incarnate Word kicked off its football program in 2009.
Both players, who helped lead UIW to a 6-5 record last fall, hope to survive the cuts made throughout the preseason as their respective teams slim rosters down to the final 53-man roster they will take into the regular season.
Tavarres, from Lake Oswego, Ore., was a member of the UIW football program for two years after transferring from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Although he had to sit out the 2014 season at UIW, he made the most of his senior year last fall, setting school records for single season tackles (110), tackles for loss (22.5) and sacks (8.5) as an outside linebacker.
Tavarres, a 6-1, 230-pounder, received multiple honors for the season. He was on the College Football Player Awards (CFPA) FCS Linebacker of the Year Award watch list and the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year watch list. He was Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and earned first team all-conference honors. Tavarres was also honored as a three-time All-American player through STATS FCS, the Associated Press FCS, and the American Football Coaches Association.
Tavarres gives UIW credit for “building confidence, and allowing (him) to have fun playing football again.” After graduating with a communication arts degree (media studies concentration) in December, Tavarres was in Houston for training. Then when the draft occurred, Tavarres got a call from his agent saying the Philadelphia Eagles wanted to sign him as a free agent.
The speed of the NFL game has been the biggest transition for him in summer camp, said Tavarres, who reportedly is up to 240 pounds.
After watching just the first play of practice, Tavarres said he had to stop and just think: “I’m really in the NFL.”
Tavarres said he mainly has been working out with the special teams unit, hoping to “make the roster and hopefully start by the end of the season.”
Overall, “I love being a trailblazer and I hope that my success shows the guys back at school that NFL teams will find you if you work hard.”
Wick, who hails from Hallettsville, Texas, was a four-year member of the Cardinal football program and a three-year starter as a tight end.
While still in his junior year, Wick was an honorable mention all-Southland Conference pick and earned first team honors in 2015. He hauled in 30 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns during his senior year, finishing his career with 61 total receptions for 832 yards and five scores.
In May Wick, a business major, was not able to walk the stage after being flown to Michigan to start camp.
Wick, who stands 6-6 and weighs in at 255 pounds, got many calls from various teams after the draft but ultimately, he and his agent chose Detroit.
“They were the first team to call so that spoke volumes as to how much they wanted me, and it felt like the place that would give me the best shot,” Wick said.
“Me and Myke’s success just speaks to the level of coaching at UIW. I learned almost everything I know about football from the UIW coaching staff and they helped me to improve every year. UIW gave me a shot when other schools wouldn’t even give me a chance. Because of that I owe a lot of my success to the coaches at UIW.”