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Offseason | 2023

Ferguson on Year 2, Schoonmaker: 'It'll Be Exciting'


The tight end room for the Dallas Cowboys received another weapon in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Jake Ferguson is as ready to get started with Luke Schoonmaker as he is to level up himself

FRISCO, Texas — The departure of Dalton Schultz in 2023 free agency creates a void the Dallas Cowboys are looking to fill with a mix of incumbent talent and incoming potential. The dynamic young duo of Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot showed the club more than enough to warrant parting ways with Schultz, but the addition of Luke Schoonmaker as the team's 2023 second-round pick potentially takes the entire unit to another level.

Schoonmaker, a former Michigan Wolverine, hails from the Big Ten as well — both Ferguson and Hendershot having found their way to the Cowboys by way of the same conference — is expected to hit the ground running in Dallas; and Ferguson sees no reason he wouldn't.

"It just shows — us having an all Big-Ten room right now — it just shows it's the best conference when it comes to having the best tight ends," Ferguson said, speaking from the 10th annual Reliant Home Run Derby. "Every guy coming out of the Big Ten is reliable. Schoon, I'm excited to see him in the room. I'm excited to meet him. 

"The Four Horsemen just added another one so it's gonna be exciting."

That moniker truly took root in 2022, when a room led by Schultz also featured more-than-solid play from rookies Ferguson and Hendershot along with veteran Sean McKeon who, by the way, signed to the Cowboys in 2020 out of … you guessed it … the Big Ten (Michigan, to be exact).

Schoonmaker will now don Schultz's former No. 86 and take his role in the four-headed tight end attack but, by all accounts, it feels as if Ferguson will be looked upon as the leader of the bunch in 2023 and beyond.

One year ago, he was little brother to Schultz but, now, he finds himself stepping into the role of big brother for Cowboys tight ends. 

"I think it kinda built itself into that but, at the same time, I'm just gonna be me," Ferguson said. "I think that's what's powerful about our tight end room — everybody brings their own personality. Nobody puts on a front about who they are. That brings our tight end room closer and [tight ends coach Lunda Wells] does a great part in bringing our room closer together."

As veterans prepare to make their way to team headquarters at the start of OTAs in late May, Ferguson has already been using his offseason to help ensure he makes a noticeable leap over what was viewed as a strong outing in Year 1. 

"Just maturing," said Ferguson. "Whether it's in-between the lines, footwork or learning the little details of how I can beat other guys. It's not just one guy, it's gonna be a good [player] that I'm going against every week. Maturing and realizing I need to be perfect in my technique and everything I do. 

"And that's just how I've approached this offseason, getting my body right and trying to fit that mold." 

Simply put, he's ready to take the lead role. 

"It's fitting into that mold of being the leader of the room but also showing through my play," he added. "And that's where it starts: in-between the lines and in my work."

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