Pro Football Spot's "Countdown to Kickoff" series continues with No. 81 Marcus Pollard, who was Peyton Manning's primary tight end for seven seasons (1998-2004).
Marcus Pollard strikes parallels to several NFL players, including current Colts player Erik Swoope: He entered the NFL without having played college football at Bradley. (The school did not have a football program at the time.)
As a basketball player, the Lanett, Ala., native started his career as a power forward at Seward Community College in Liberal, Kan., before transferring to Bradley for his junior season.
After graduation in 1995, he signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. At 6’3”, 255 pounds, Pollard developed into a premier tight end in large part to Peyton Manning. His best season was in 2001 when he caught 47 passes for 739 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Pollard remained with the Colts until 2004, after which he signed with the Detroit Lions. After playing in Detroit for two seasons, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. After being inactive for virtually the entire 2008 season with the Atlanta Falcons, Pollard retired.
Pollard is now the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Director of Player Development.
No. 81 Honorable Mention
Bryan Fletcher (2005-2007)
Fletcher was drafted out of UCLA in the sixth round of the 2002 draft by the Chicago Bears. After spending three seasons on the practice squad, he signed with the Colts. In three seasons he made 54 catches for 547 yards and 5 touchdowns. He contributed to the Colts’ game-winning drive against the New England Patriots in the 2007 AFC Championship Game.
Eric Thomas (2014)
Thomas signed with the Colts on May 12 as an undrafted free agent out of Florida International. The wide receiver is the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader with 29 touchdowns, surpassing former college teammate and current Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. As a senior in 2013, he caught 66 passes for 12 touchdowns and 993 yards.