T.J. Wheatley, the Buffalo News Player of the Year at Canisius in 2014, has signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, a team his father, Tyrone, played for in six seasons.
Wheatley, a tight end and defensive end at Canisius, is continuing his attempts to make the NFL as an offensive tackle.
Wheatley switched positions in the Spring League in 2021 and increased his weight from 265 pounds to 290. He later signed with the Chicago Bears and spent last season on the practice squad.
After signing a reserve/future contract to return to the Bears in January. he was waived last week.
Wheatley was a tight end at Michigan, where his father starred, and then finished his college career at FCS school Stony Brook.
He was part of a state Catholic championship team as a senior at Canisius, which used him more as a road-grading blocker during a season in which the Crusaders averaged almost 9 yards per carry.
Ten of his 11 catches went for either touchdowns or first downs, as he was still the go-to receiver in obvious passing situations. On defense, he commanded double-teams at minimum from the defensive end position and sometimes received triple teams.
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Despite the extra attention, he still found a way to be a game-changer. He blocked two punts in the state Catholic championship game, the second leading to the touchdown that sparked unbeaten Canisius’ fourth-quarter comeback win over previously unblemished Archbishop Stepinac.
He was the top-ranked football recruit in New York State in the Class of 2015.