Monday, June 27, 2011
Preseason position reviews: tight end
By Ted Miller
Tight end looks like a solid position heading into 2011, which wasn't the case in 2010.
So where does everyone stand? Let's check it out.
Stanford: An embarrassment of riches at the position, even though 2010 official starter Konrad Reuland is gone. Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levin Toilolo all have NFL futures. Ertz was dominant in the spring game. Fleener, second-team All-Pac-10, caught three touchdown passes in the Orange Bowl. Toilolo won the starting job in 2010 before he got hurt in the opener (after catching a 27-yard pass, no less). Fleener and Ertz combined for 44 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 2010. All three are athletic and taller than 6-foot-6. No team in the nation is stronger at tight end.
Oregon: David Paulson was first-team All-Pac-12 after catching 24 passes for 418 yards with four ouchdowns in 2010. He's also a good blocker. Backup Brandon Williams is an impressive specimen who figures to contribute more this fall -- unless touted true freshman Colt Lyerla eclipses him.
USC: The underrated Rhett Ellison caught 21 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns in 2010, and Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and Christian Thomas provide quality depth. Ellison is versatile enough to double as a fullback, when necessary. Grimble, a redshirt freshman, led the Trojans with eight receptions for 73 yards the spring game.
Colorado: Ryan Deehan, honorable mention All-Big 12, caught 25 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown in 2010. Backup DaVaughn Thornton has potential.
The position figures to get more work with new coach Jon Embree, a former Buffaloes and NFL tight end.
UCLA: Cory Harkey and Joseph Fauria are both solid veteran players, though Harkey suffered an outbreak of the dropsies last fall. They combined for 17 receptions -- 14 from Harkey -- in 2010.
California: Both Anthony Miller and Spencer Ladner are back, and Miller had 13 of their combined 16 receptions in 2010. Both are solid but unspectacular players.
Oregon State: While Joe Halahuni is officially an H-back, we count him as a tight end.
He caught 30 passes for 390 yards in 2010 and led Beavers receivers with six ouchdowns. If he wasn't coming back from shoulder surgery -- he could miss the first month of the season -- the Beavers would be in great shape. Junior Colby Prince is the "official" tight end. He caught one pass last season.
Utah: Kendrick Moeai, a three-year starter, caught 11 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown in 2010. Yes, that's an average of 20.5 yards per reception. He might get more looks in Norm Chow's pro-style offense. Backup Westlee Tonga hasn't caught a pass.
Washington: On the one hand, the Huskies have no experience at the position. On the other, true freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins and redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson looked like a potentially outstanding duo this spring. Still, you've got to prove it.
Arizona: Since Rob Gronkowski departed, tight end hasn't been a go-to position for the Wildcats. Jack Baucus, atop the post-spring depth chart, caught four passes last season as a backup. Departed 2010 starter A.J. Simmons caught eight.
Arizona State: Not a big position for the Sun Devils, either. Trevor Kohl caught two passes in 2010. Center Garth Gerhart is credited with one reception. The ASU offense uses a "Y" receiver, who sometimes operates as tight end, which would be 235-pound Christopher Coyle.
Washington State: 2010 starter Skylar Stormo is now a defensive end. Junior Andrei Lintz sat atop the post-spring depth chart, and he caught one pass for four yards last fall. Promising freshman Aaron Dunn is the backup.