Natkin, Brian : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Natkin, Brian

Called the nation's top tight end in 2000 by Sports Illustrated, Natkin topped off a brilliant career at UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso) by being named a unanimous All-America. After playing with the Tennessee Titans in 2001, Natkin was a member of the St. Louis Rams in the 2003 pre-season. The team's starting fullback, he was released following the final preseason game. During 2003, Brian became the tight end coach at UTEP.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. January 3, 1978

Career Highlights:
After an excellent high school career, Natkin chose Texas-El Paso over Air Force and Army (the only three schools to recruit him). After redshirting in 1996, he played in all eleven games in 1997 and had 15 catches for 137 yards as UTEP finished with a record of 4-7-0. In 1998, Brian had a terrific season, finishing fourth in the nation among tight ends with 34 receptions and 362 yards; he grabbed 22 passes in the final four games of the year. Against Hawaii, he caught 6 passes for 42 yards in UTEP's 30-13 win. The following week, he grabbed seven passes for 80 yards and one touchdown in a 34-27 loss to Utah. Natkin was named first team Pacific Division All-WAC, and All-American honorable mention by the Football News.

In 1999, Brian finished the season with 59 receptions for 648 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was a bright spot as UTEP struggled to a 5-7-0 season. Against mighty No. 6 Kansas State, Natkin caught 8 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown in UTEP's 40-7 loss. In the final game of the season, he had nine catches for 75 yards in their 52-24 loss to TCU. Natkin was named first team All-WAC for the second year in a row and ranked seventh in the conference in receptions per game (4.9) and tenth in receiving yards per game (54.0).

Entering his senior season in 2000, Brian had another brilliant year as UTEP finally surrounded him with enough support to have a winning season. Natkin led the nation's tight ends with 63 receptions for 775 yards (both career highs) and added four touchdowns. In a 47-30 win over San Jose State, Brian grabbed 7 passes for 92 yards and a career-high 2 touchdowns. UTEP finished with a regular season record of 8-3-0 and were invited to the Humanitarian Bowl. Although they lost, 38-23, to Boise State, Natkin had the satisfaction of closing his college career on a winning team. Brian was again first team All-WAC and was named to seven All-America teams, becoming the school's first-ever consensus All-America! He was also selected to play for the East in the East-West Shrine Bowl and the South in the Seniors Bowl.

Natkin, who is first all-time in school history in receptions (175), said during the 2000 season: "We've worked real hard (as a team) the last couple of years. We've worked to a good place...I hadn't expected this much (this season). This is great. I've been through three bad years. Last year was so so (at 5-7-0). This is the year I was waiting for. This makes it worth it." Nevada head coach Chris Tormey said of Brian: "He can play for anybody in the country. I think an All-American can take over a game. Nobody has been able to cover him on third down. Nobody yet."

After signing a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans in 2001, Natkin appeared in two games for the team. On November 12, Natkin played in his first NFL game on Monday Night Football against the Titans' division rival, the Baltimore Ravens. In a hard-fought game that went down to the wire, Natkin played often as Titans starter Frank Wycheck was injured during the game. Brian had one reception for 27 yards, but Tennessee lost, 16-10, in one of the most exciting games of the season. In the Titans' next game, a 20-7 win over Cincinnati, Brian had one catch for 15 yards. He did not play for the Titans for the rest of the season. The team finished the year 7-9, tied for third place in the AFC Central.

San Antonio, Texas

Career Dates:
Natkin played as a tight end at UTEP from 1997-2000. He played in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans in 2001.

Physical description:
6'3", 245 pounds

Career Statistics:
Receptions: 175
Receiving yards: 1991
Receiving average: 11.4
Receiving touchdowns: 11

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Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)