ELK RAPIDS — He’s probably sick of them by now, but Adam Trautman took a bite of a big burger this year.
The Elk Rapids product worked hard to bulk up in high school and college by constantly eating hamburger chunks, and that appetite paid off this year when he was selected in the third round by the New Orleans Saints.
Trautman’s ascension from Elk Rapids football player to making an NFL impact as a rookie on a playoff teams is the Record-Eagle’s No. 5 local sports story of the year.
Quickly earning the trust of Brees and head coach Sean Payton, Trautman stepped right in and earned a spot in the Saints’ tight end rotation, even starting once in place of Jared Cook.
He appeared in a national television commercial, caught a touchdown pass from a Hall of Fame quarterback and helped New Orleans maintain its status as one of the best NFC franchises.
But back in high school at Elk Rapids, Trautman worked just as much on eating as football, all with the goal of bulking up to play at the college and professional levels.
Trautman went to school with pieces of grilled hamburger in sandwich bags, chomping on them throughout the day to pack on pounds.
“You’d smell something and look around and Adam is going to town on hamburgers,” former Elk Rapids teammate Rob Wolfington said. “The dude ate more hamburgers than I’ve had in my life.”
“Either baggies or Tupperware containers,” former Elks teammate Dillon Thompson said. “He was all about bulking up. Nothing was going to stop him. By the end of it, I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t even like those anymore.’”
He also made a return to his home state, playing a game in Detroit against the Lions.
“I always was a Texan fan in a way, not super die hard,” said Trautman, who grew up in the Houston area before moving and starring at Elk Rapids. “I was never really a Lions fan, to be honest.”
Trautman made his first NFL catch on Monday Night Football.
“He had a good training camp right away,” New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said about Trautman before the Saints played the Detroit Lions. “He’s smart, he’s someone that’s tough and prepares well. I know the quarterback has a lot of confidence in him, so he’s played well.”
Trautman has 14 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown, catching a 17-yard pass from Drew Brees for his first career reception on Sept. 21 on Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Trautman hauled in his first touchdown pass in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching three passes for 39 yards in a 38-3 Saints victory.
He was the first University of Dayton football player to be drafted since Bill Westbeld in 1977 after a Flyers career in which he had 171 receptions for 2,295 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Dayton moved Trautman from his high school position of quarterback to tight end following a redshirt season.