Christian Kuntz never accepted “No” for an answer.
First, there was the ACL tear following his All-American sophomore season at Duquesne.
Following a year-long rehabilitation, Kuntz responded with two more All-American seasons in a Dukes’ uniform.
Kuntz, the 2015 FCS ADA National Linebacker of the Year, became one of the most-feared edge rushers in the entire Football Championship Subdivision. He possessed great football instincts and twice won the NEC Defensive Player of the Year award. Surely, the NFL was in his future?
While his collegiate resume pushed him onto the NFL radar, he went undrafted in 2017 despite boasting an immensely productive body of work.
Kuntz’s detractors in the scouting community pointed to his “lack of size” for a NFL edge rusher and his “lack of speed” for a pass-defending linebacker.
Surprisingly, Kuntz did not receive an opportunity until late in the 2017 NFL Preseason when the New England Patriots signed him to a UDFA contract, only to waive him later that week.
Jobless during the 2017 season, Kuntz embarked on a position change and began grooming himself to become a reliable long snapper.
With long snapping being a talent unto itself, not many pro snappers possess the same eye-popping instincts that are synonymous with elite defenders. Kuntz’s roots, however, make him better suited than most to get down the field in punt coverage and make tackles.
Having added a new skill to his arsenal, he signed with the Denver Broncos in March 2018. After a few months in their offseason program, Kuntz was released and on the move again.
Unsigned until December of that year, Kuntz landed on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad for the final two weeks of the regular season and was signed to a reserve/futures deal.
After working through the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason program, Kuntz found himself on the waiver wire again in June prior to the start of training camp.
Still, the best was yet to come for the Western Pennsylvania product.
Midway through August 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Kuntz and the Duquesne alumnus proceeded to log five tackles and a sack in the team’s preseason finale.
Despite the strong showing, the roster bubble burst on him.
Kuntz was without a 53-man roster spot for the 2019 NFL regular season, but he was far from finished.
The linebacker-turned-long snapper landed in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades in early 2020 and impressed enough to earn another chance with the Steelers.
Kuntz was signed by Pittsburgh on March 30, 2020 and worked through another NFL offseason program before being waived on August 2.
The relentless kid from the Pittsburgh suburbs kept at it though.
Late in the 2020 regular season, Kuntz served two short stints on the Steelers’ practice squad before signing a futures/reserve contract on January 14, 2021.
Now all he had to do was beat out an incumbent starter at a position where turnover happens less than regularly.
To no Duquesne fan’s surprise, Kuntz did just that.
Living a remarkable story of commitment and triumph, Christian Kuntz is on a NFL 53-man Opening Day roster.
He spent much of the last two seasons on the practice squad, but Tom Kennedy has earned a promotion in Detroit. Bryant’s former all-NEC receiver performed well enough during the 2021 NFL Preseason to earn a spot on the Lions’ initial 53-man roster. He has played in one NFL regular season game, becoming the first-ever Bryant alumnus to do so when he suited up for Detroit against
SEAHAWKS, STAND UP
Three Wagner Seahawks made the cut when initial NFL 53-man rosters were published.
Julian Stanford, a former all-NEC linebacker, will spend his ninth NFL season as a special teams ace with the Carolina Panthers.
Despite battling injury during the preseason, former two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year Cam Gill earned a spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster for the second straight year.
Former Wagner defensive tackle Chris Williams secured a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster after spending the 2020 NFL season on the team’s practice squad.