Rookie Spotlight: WR Rich Gunnell

Posted Jun 29, 2010

Boston College's all-time receiving leader is putting in extra work to try and make his first professional roster

On July 29th, 80 men will report to training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri with one goal in mind – to wear the Kansas City Chiefs logo on their helmets when The New Arrowhead Stadium hosts its first-ever Monday Night Football Game on September 13th. Chiefs fans are already familiar with the majority of players who will be competing for roster spots this summer, but the crop of undrafted free agents often enter camp anonymous to the fan base.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll meet each of the Chiefs undrafted players for conversation. These are players that can’t be ignored. History tells us that several of these men will end up on Kansas City’s Opening Day roster.

Today’s Rookie Focus – WR Rich Gunnell (5-11, 197)

Quick Intro – Gunnell was a mainstay in the Boston College offensive game plan, playing in 47 games (28 starts) from 2006-2009. He departed Chestnut Hill with 181 catches for a school-record 2,459 yards (13.6 avg.) with 18 TDs.

JL: My first impressions of you are a guy who is always doing some type of extra work after practice, whether it’s catching footballs on the jugs machine or running extra routes. Talk about your approach to the game once practice concludes.

RG: There is always room for improvement. Me and (WR Jeremy Horne) do a lot of extra work on the jugs. I also go out and run a little bit more, because I’ve come to learn that conditioning is a huge thing, so I’m definitely trying to get my conditioning up.

JL: You just mentioned Jeremy. It seems like you guys have been inseparable since you both go here. You guys seem like a pair, just like DB Kendrick Lewis/WR Dexter McCluster and CBs Brandon Carr/Brandon Flowers. How did you and Jeremy develop that relationship?

RG: We first met at the Boston College Pro Day. We met there when we worked out a little bit, and come to find out, we both end up here and run into each other again. We’re roommates now, so we’ve kind of bonded a little bit. I’m around him more than anybody else, so I don’t really have a choice (laughing).

JL: (Horne played college ball at UMASS, which is about 90 miles from Boston College. In addition to rooming with one another, the pair also locker next to one another in the Chiefs Training Facility)

JL: When the undrafted signings were coming in after the draft, did you take a look at and see Horne’s name on the list alongside yours?

RG: I didn’t really look into it too much. I know that my girlfriend did, she’s always all over the internet and looks at the website every day (laughing). She’s always updating me, so I get most of my news from her. But I do remember seeing his name, along with another guy who was here named Andre Jones. We were real close also, from before, so that was another name that I noticed.

JL: (Jones, who was trying to make the team as a defensive back with the Chiefs, also played wide receiver at Akron and was released on June 14th)

JL: Talk about your career at Boston College and what it meant to end your tenure as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards.

RG: My time at Boston College was great. I developed a lot of great relationships with people. It’s always nice to get out there and kind of put Boston College on the map, because we’re not one of those schools that is seen nationally by everybody. Hopefully I can do well in the NFL and try to help out that program in the future.

JL: TE Pete Mitchell was the guy that you overtook for the career receiving yards mark. He had a very nice NFL career playing for several teams. Did you have any contact with him as you were chasing that record?

RG: I did actually. A couple of games before, it felt like I was approaching the record and I met him in person. I actually didn’t break the record until the last game of my career and he called me right after that to congratulate me. He gave me his number and everything, and just reached out to me that if I ever needed anything after football was over to just let him know.

JL: That record came on a 61-yard TD catch vs. USC in the Emerald Bowl. Was that the best way to do it?

RG: It was, especially against a team like USC. But unfortunately we weren’t able to win that game, and that’s the only thing that truly mattered to me. So after breaking the record, but not winning the game, it didn’t mean as much.

JL: You had 64 catches for just under 1,000 yards in 2007 with Matt Ryan as your quarterback, which was your best statistical season. Talk about playing with Matt that year and the connection that you guys had.

RG: Playing with Matt was a great opportunity and you didn’t realize how much you had with him until he was gone. After that I played with first-year quarterbacks. We had a fifth-year senior playing, but of course it was his first year actually playing since he was playing behind Matt. He was great, and then the year after that it was all freshman, so it was all new to them in general. There are always ups and downs when you lose a player the caliber of Matt Ryan.

JL: People always talk about the importance of developing timing with new quarterbacks. Do you look back at the time it took to adjust to the new quarterbacks at BC and compare it to entering a new environment with new throwers here in the NFL?

RG: Going through those adjustments probably helped me out a lot when I came in here and learned to work with a set of new quarterbacks. We have Tyler Palko, who is a lefty, so that’s always different because of the way the football comes out. There’s definitely an adjustment to be made.

JL: (Speaking of lefties, when rookie Andrew Lewis is snapping to Tyler Palko the Chiefs have a left-handed center snapping to a left-handed quarterback. How rare is that?)

JL: I don’t think that a lot of fans realize that you were the ACC’s active leader in punt return TDs, in addition to being the active leader in receptions and receiving yards last season. Talk about your ability to return kicks.

RG: When I first got to BC, I did all the other things beside return footballs. I was on all of the coverage units, but I never thought I would get a shot to return. I returned in high school, but when the coaches gave me the opportunity I tried to make the best of it. Hopefully if I can contribute here, I will.

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