MOBILE, Ala. -- He is surrounded by all-conference players, All Americans and bowl game MVPs, yet Nick Kasa still has found a way to stand out.

He is in a crowd of NFL hopefuls he never expected to be in, playing a position he had never tried until his career at Colorado was in its final stages.

"There's no way I thought I'd be in this position," Kasa said. "Just no way. Not even close, not even close. And if I wouldn't have switched positions, I wouldn't be."

Kasa is the lone representative from a football-playing college or university in Colorado at the Senior Bowl this week. The former prep All-American defensive lineman at Legacy, now is a tight end who has put himself on the NFL's radar.

With disappointment weighing on him and his confidence draining, Kasa talked to former Buffs coach Jon Embree about a position switch from the defensive line eight games into the 2011 season. Embree, a former tight ends coach in the NFL who was hired by the Cleveland Browns on Thursday to coach the position again, saw potential and Kasa saw freedom.

"I really wasn't doing anything on the D-line," Kasa said. "I was just kind of filling a slot on the roster. Coming in as a big recruit, it just wasn't right for me. I felt like I needed to accomplish something for the team. I was just getting in there being a filler, for reps. And without coach Embree talking to me about it, and then moving me over, none of this happens."

"He's a big guy that can run, very athletic," Embree said. "J.D. Burkhardt (former Buffs tight ends coach) did a great job of working with him on a daily basis and helping Nick with his confidence. Nick being there this week is a testament to his work ethic and his desire and want-to. I'm very happy for him, I actually talked about him in my interview with Cleveland."

At a time when the tight end has become the match-up offenses believe they can win all over the field, Kasa has shown the speed of a smaller player despite being 6-foot-51/2-inches tall and 271 pounds.

As the week progressed in Mobile, scouts from several teams said Kasa seemed to catch the ball better every day against some of the nation's best defensive prospects. In a red-zone drill during Thursday's practice, Kasa plucked a low fastball with a defender hanging all over him.

"In a lot of ways, I think the sky's kind of the limit for me and I think I've only scratched the surface of what I can do," Kasa said. "I've done pretty well with just one year under my belt. I'd like to see what I can do with eight like most of these guys have. I know there's a lot I still have to learn, but I'm learning fast.

"This all has turned football around for me. I was really down on myself. And even as disappointing as it was this past year (when the Buffs finished 1-11), I felt like I kind of discovered the game again."

Embree said Kasa's time at defensive end -- Kasa played in 24 games on defense in his career in Boulder, including one start, against Texas Tech in 2010 -- could help his cause.

"You look at the way Nick can run, that athleticism and that he plays with that mindset of a defensive player, he should impact things on special teams right away," Embree said. "That defensive background will be a plus for him."

The Oakland Raiders staff, including coach Dennis Allen, a former Broncos defensive coordinator, is expected to give Kasa plenty of playing time in Saturday's game. Kasa has often worked with the North's No. 1 offense in practices this week.

"I can move pretty well for being as big as I am," Kasa said. "That's kind of the thing in the NFL right now. But obviously I'm still pretty inexperienced, but a lot of teams say just keep doing what you're doing," Kasa said. "I'm staying on track and I'm trying to do as well as I can."

"He'll have bright future no doubt," Embree said. "His strengths will be a premium for what offenses are doing right now."

But as for all of those calls Embree has received this week from tight ends coaches around the league about Kasa? Well, the Browns' newest assistant coach says those will have to wait.

"I have some of them trying to get information, but I'm not giving it out," Embree said with a laugh. "They're going to have to figure it out on their own right now, because Nick has an opportunity to realize a dream."