Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Buford's Kurt Freitag is a Daily Post Super Six selection.
It’s fourth-and-six in the third quarter of the Class AA semifinals.
Buford is on the road in South Georgia, playing at Fitzgerald. The game is tied at 21 and the Wolves are faced with a crucial down.
Quarterback Alex Ross calls the play, fakes a handoff and sees a wide-open sophomore 24 yards downfield in the end zone. Ross slings the ball and the young player makes the catch to pull Buford ahead for good.
The Freitag File
Name: Kurt Freitag
Position: Tight end/defensive end
College choices: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami
Place of birth: Atlanta
Role model: Jess Simpson
Favorite restaurant: Any one
Favorite store: Publix
Favorite teacher: Jess Simpson
Favorite subject: Math
Text messages I send in a month: Less than 500
Number of Facebook friends: 2,100
Superstitions: Don’t step on the Buford B
Funniest teammate: Zach Cable
Life’s dream: Live on my own private island and live by my rules
Info file: Freitag is a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end for the Wolves. The senior is primarily used as a blocking tight end in Buford’s offense, but has soft hands. Those hands helped Freitag burst onto the scene as a sophomore when he caught two touchdown passes in the state semifinals. He is a force on both sides of the line of scrimmage, earning offers from more than a dozen major Division I schools. Runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, bench presses 310 pounds, squats 450 and power cleans 340.
Coach Jess Simpson’s take: “He’s been a part of a lot of success here, but is that enough? That’s what’s great about these seniors, they seem really hungry and aren’t complacent about what they’ve done.”
That fresh face on the field in 2009 was Kurt Freitag. Since then he hasn’t stopped making plays for Buford.
“That was an amazing game,” Freitag said. “That was one of my favorite games.”
The Wolves’ tight end and Daily Post Super Six selection has played a big role in Buford’s last two state championships and is a big reason why they are favored to win their fifth straight this fall.
“Kurt is a throwback player. He’s a very tough kid, very physical kid,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. “I grew up in the 80s and he’s a Mark Bavaro, Notre Dame, New York Giants kind of guy. He’s tough, hard nosed, great blocker, pretty skilled at catching the ball. He’s just a good football player.”
Freitag’s big catch in the Fitzgerald game wasn’t his only one that day. Late in the first half, he caught another touchdown on fourth down.
“It just worked out in our favor,” Freitag said. “They called the right plays and got me the ball.”
Freitag finished with five catches for 86 yards that day and it was just the beginning of his stardom. Buford won the state championship the following week and a couple of months later Freitag picked up his first college scholarship offer from South Carolina.
“It really caught me by surprise,” Freitag said.
“I guess after my sophomore year, I showed I could play and they saw something in me. It was exciting for me.”
Since then Freitag has picked up more than a dozen scholarship offers from the South. The attention has made it hard for him to live a normal teenage life.
He gets text messages and calls from coaches, reporters and recruiting services. Even his teammates and classmates ask him where’s he’s going to school next year.
“It’s been tough talk to everyone,” Freitag admitted.
That’s why Freitag finds refuge by fishing at local ponds around his house with his younger brother and friends. It’s the one place Freitag doesn’t have to think about football.
He’s not bothered by college coaches or recruiting services. He can just enjoy being a teenager.
“I love that. I did that growing up. It’s probably one of my favorite things,” Freitag said. “It’s just relaxing and having a good time. I think about football enough.”
Freitag grew up in Boca Raton, Fla., where he regularly went deep sea fishing. A return to the Sunshine State is possible. Freitag has listed three of his four finalists from Florida. He’s choosing between Florida, Florida State and Miami. Then there’s Alabama, just two years removed from a national title and where teammate Dillon Lee has committed.
He plans to make a choice in September, so he can stay focused the rest of the season for a title run.
“It’s tough trying to keep in contact with everybody,” Freitag said. “From the coaches to the community asking questions and the bloggers and reporters.”
Freitag has handled all the attention in stride. He maintains a low-key demeanor with all the recruiting hoopla. It has partly been intensified by the fact Buford has a senior class with about 15 players that will sign college scholarship, including a half dozen to Division I BCS schools. All of that talent has pushed Buford to the forefront as the heavy favorite to repeat as Class AA state champions and Freitag likes it.
“Our coaches are comparing our talent and how many good players we have to some of the past state championship teams, like the ‘07 team,” Freitag said. “We’re going to try and leave our mark with our coaches as the best team and also in the community.”