April 30, 2013

FOOTBALL | Seniors J.C. Tretter, Luke Tasker Get Drafted Into NFL

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Sitting in his home in Akron, N.Y. on Saturday, surrounded by friends and family, senior offensive lineman J.C. Tretter heard the phone ringing first. The area code on the screen read Green Bay, Wis. Just a few moments later, Tretter watched on television as his name was called as the 25th pick of the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Draft.“There was just extreme excitement in the room,” Tretter said. “There were about twelve people there, a couple teammates, my mom, dad, sister, uncle, cousins and grandpa. It was such a tight-knit group and everyone was filled with joy and excitement. It was a great moment.”One of Tretter’s teammates that sat through the grueling hours of Thursday and Friday’s draft show was senior wide receiver Luke Tasker. Tasker — who has roomed with Tretter since freshman year — got some thrilling news of his own just one day later, when he signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers.“Me and [Tasker] are best friends and roommates; he was at my house Thursday and Friday and came back to be with his family on Saturday,” Tretter said. “It’s an exciting time for both of us being on a team next year, but it’s also a great time for the Cornell Big Red nation.”Though Tasker went undrafted through the seven-round selection process that spanned three full days, he was picked up by the Chargers as one of 23 undrafted players to join their roster.“I’m excited and grateful to be going to the Chargers, but I’m also grateful to the people who have helped me at Cornell,” Tasker said. “I’m thankful to my family for all the support I’ve been given throughout my life. I wouldn’t be here without all of them.”The two seniors are the first Red football players to go pro since Super Bowl champion Kevin Boothe ’06. Tretter’s fourth round selection is the highest since Seth Payne ’97 was chosen as the 114th overall pick.Tretter will fly out to Green Bay on May 9, joining a team that won the AFC championship and the Super Bowl in 2010, and finished 15-1 in the 2011 season. He will be assimilating into a city that thrives on the success of its football team.“The town speaks for itself,” Tretter said. “It’s a football town where it’s all about the Packers. It’s such a great environment.”Tretter has spent the last three years protecting the blind side of star junior quarterback Jeff Mathews. Now, he will be fighting to protect super bowl champion and MVP Aaron Rodgers at the next level.“I couldn’t be happier; [Green Bay] is a great landing spot,” Tretter said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know Aaron and to learn from him and see what he does to defenses.”As a wide receiver, Tasker will have to form a similar relationship with his quarterback — Phil Rivers. Rivers led the Chargers to a 14-2 record in his first season as the starting quarterback, and — in 2007 — led San Diego to its first playoff win since 1994.“I’m very excited to work with [him]. I think it’s a good fit for me and a good opportunity,” Tasker said.A New York boy hailing from East Aurora, Tasker has the luxury of getting to play in Southern California.“I mean, it’s Southern Cali — there’s no weather that is better,” Tasker said. “I also have some friends in San Diego which makes it more fun, and maybe I’ll try to live in California for some time.”As a fellow offensive lineman, Tretter cannot help but be compared to Boothe, who became a two-time Super Bowl champion after the Giants beat the Patriots in 2011.“Kevin has been great, giving me pointers and tips along the way, and he congratulated me when he heard the news,” Tretter said. “I can’t complain with that comparison. He’s done a great job, so I’d love to be able to follow in his footsteps.”As roommates and teammates since their freshman year, Tasker and Tretter have seen each other through ups and downs, injuries and recoveries. However, according to Tasker, sharing this moment has legitimized their hard work.“It’s been cool. We’ve been roommates for four years; it’s been a fun process to share together, getting ready for the draft,” Tasker said. “It’s a funny coincidence that now we both get this chance to make a career out of this game.”With two Red players making the next step to professional football this year, there is hope for Tretter and Tasker’s teammates that, someday, they too might hear their name called by an NFL team.“It just takes hard work, it takes sacrificing, but mostly it takes a positive attitude,” Tasker said. “You’re not going to be everything you want as a football player, so you need to have a positive attitude. You’ve got to remember to have fun with it and live in the moment.”Tretter had similar advice for the younger generation of Cornell football players.“You’ve got to dedicate yourself every day, make the right decisions on and off the field, and put the extra work in,” he said. “You have to do something extra if you want to separate yourself from everyone else.”For now, Tretter and Tasker have the opportunity to soak in the accomplishment of moving on to the next level of the game they love. However, they both understand that the outcome of this weekend was just the first step in what is sure to be a long and difficult journey.“There’s still a lot of work ahead if I want to make my dreams come true,” Tasker said.

Original Author: Scott Chiusano