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Shanahan 'excited' to join Jets as undrafted free agent

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Pitt's Mike Shanahan makes a first-quarter catch in front of Temple's Abdul Smith on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at Heinz Field. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Mike Shanahan didn't hear his name called during last weekend's NFL Draft, but his attempt to make it in the league continues.

Shanahan, a 2008 Norwin graduate who played at Pitt from 2008-12, signed a contract as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets shortly after the draft ended Saturday. A wide receiver in college, Shanahan will attempt to make the team as a tight end.

“Even though I didn't get picked, it was still nice to have it done right away,” said Shanahan, who said the Jets first called him during the sixth round.

The tight ends coach from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Brian Angelichio, who coached at Pitt from 2006-10 — also contacted Shanahan during the draft, but the Jets' seriousness won him over.

Shanahan's first contact with the Jets came at the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game in January, when he spoke to a Jets scout. New York remained in touch in the weeks leading up to the draft.

The Jets made AFC Championship Game appearances after the 2009 and 2010 seasons, losing to the Colts and Steelers. New York finished 8-8 in 2011 and stumbled to a 6-10 finish in 2012.

New York's starting tight end, Dustin Keller, left the team in free agency to sign with the Miami Dolphins, and the Jets didn't select any tight ends in the draft. Shanahan was one of two tight end prospects the team signed as an undrafted free agent, the other being Chris Pantale of Boston College.

“I'm definitely excited. I just know that I'm going to have to go in there and compete and try to earn my job,” Shanahan said. I'm looking forward to that. It's a good place for me to do that — I think I'll have some opportunity there.”

Shanahan, who is still working toward his master's degree in social studies at Pitt, said he expects to attend Jets rookie minicamp when it opens May 9.

“I'm looking forward to meeting (coach Rex Ryan) and all the other teammates up there,” Shanahan said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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