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'Obvious Athlete': Could Ex-Texas Tech WR TJ Vasher be Hidden Gem in NFL?

The second-year receiver is ready to hit the field after being sidelined all of last season

The "all-natural athlete" label tends to get thrown around a lot in the NFL, particularly for receivers. Maintaining the ability to outrun, out-jump, and muscle through defenders doesn't come easy for a position that is dominated by some of the world's best athletes.

Headed into his second NFL season, former Texas Tech Red Raider and current Dallas Cowboys receiver T.J. Vasher still hasn't gotten the chance to prove his ability as an all-world athlete after an injury-riddled rookie season. But his physical measurements and seemingly unmeasurable confidence could prove to be a hidden gem for a Dallas offense that lacks size in the receiver room.

"I think it was obvious I was going to be an athlete," Vasher said to "My dad was an athlete and so were my uncles. So just naturally I was wanting to do it."

Vasher, who grew up in Wichita Falls and spent five seasons at Texas Tech, is 6-6, 218-pounds, and has an 84-inch wingspan - the longest out of any wide receiver or tight end in the 2021 class. He went undrafted last year as his Red Raiders stats were not consistently great. But he stands out due to his size, which caught the eyes of multiple Division 1 basketball programs when the former forward was in high school.

"Football I think came naturally, very natural, but basketball was something I think at the beginning I maybe struggled with a little bit," Vasher said. "But I'm such a persistent person it ended up being something that I was actually pretty good at, and a lot of people probably expected that I was going to play basketball coming out of high school. But football was it for me."

He received offers from highly-touted football programs like Ohio State, Texas, and Texas A&M, but chose to head just three hours west of his hometown to Lubbock

Vasher played three years under former Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury, who's heading into his fourth season as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. In Kingsbury's final season in 2018, Vasher posted a career-high in games played (11), catches (54), receiving yards (687), and touchdowns (seven). He finished his career in a four-way tie for ninth-most receiving touchdowns in program history with 21.

Vasher's athleticism was hard for the Cowboys to deny last offseason, as the team inked him to an undrafted free agent deal with the hopes he'd provide a spark. That spark never came, as the 23-year-old sat the entire year with a knee injury that he had suffered in college.

But his abilities could be needed sooner rather than later with Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson out of the picture. With an injury to Michael Gallup, newcomers James Washington, and rookie Jalen Tolbert, the Cowboys are left thin at receiver behind No. 1 passing option CeeDee Lamb.

Vasher's first year was spent taking mental reps, but he's still trying to find his way back in order to help the offense when the season begins.

"I am just trying to get back to being comfortable back in the swing of being with the guys," Vasher said. "Last year I was here but wasn't just necessarily in everything with everyone else. So this year, especially right now, just getting in the groove, make sure I'm up to speed with the rest of the guys and just getting back to feeling normal."

With Dallas' minicamp concluding Friday, Vasher will get more opportunities to get acclimated when training camp begins in July. Fans will likely get their first look at the big-bodied, two-sport receiver in the first preseason game against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 13.

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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