Tight end Dennis Pitta has made huge strides this season, playing a key role in the Baltimore Ravens' success. The former BYU great caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season — tying a franchise record for touchdowns caught by a tight end.
More important have been Pitta's 10 postseason receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. His production has earned the praise and confidence of his teammates, including defensive end Terrell Suggs, who has famously praised Pitta on multiple occasions.
“The white tight end," Suggs said in 2011. "He’s American Express. He’s everywhere you want to be. Don’t leave home without him.”
Suggs came out with additional fantastic descriptions of Pitta during the 2012 season as well. During a contest between Oakland and Baltimore on Nov. 11, 2012, Suggs said Pitta is "so beautiful, he's like a unicorn or a minotaur."
Other teammates, such as Jacoby Jones, have nicknamed Pitta as "Big Smooth" because of his ability to run routes like a receiver, according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com.
Mink points out that Pitta has made a habit of exceeding expectations since he first walked on at BYU.
"The Brigham Young University product has had to prove himself along the way," Mink writes. "He was a college walk-on, then recorded a school-record 221 career receptions. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 — one round after the Ravens took tight end Ed Dickson — but has overtaken him in the passing game."
Mink points out that Pitta has seen steady improvement in each of his three professional seasons and has become a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco.
“I think they’ve seen he can play so they make him a bigger part of the offense,” Flacco said in the article. “He’s produced when he’s gotten the chance.”
Louis Bien of SBNation points out that Pitta could again play a vital role for his team in the Super Bowl against San Francisco on Sunday.
"While names like Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin come to mind first when thinking about the Ravens offense, Pitta has a chance to play a big role on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers," Bien writes. "The Niners gave up eight touchdown receptions to tight ends during the regular season, good for seventh-most in the NFL. If San Francisco's defense keeps the deep ball in check as it has all season, the former fourth-rounder could be one of the Ravens' most important weapons in the Super Bowl."
Pitta and the Ravens square off against the 49ers in the Super Bowl this Sunday at 4:20 p.m. MST.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company