Positional Outlooks: Tight End

I'm writing some positional outlooks for our beloved Buffaloes. They are based on what I've read and seen of the players we've got.

Thoughts:

We are supposedly thin at the TE position this season. For a team that has produced some pretty impressive TEs over the last decade, it would be kind of disappointing...if it were true. We may be inexperienced at the position, but we're not thin. Well, maybe DaVaughn Thornton is thin. But we've got a 6th year senior there, a guy who has played in each of the last two seasons, a bright young star, and a bunch of true and redshirt freshmen in the mix.

The Cast:

  • Luke Walters, Sr (6th year)
    • He was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA for a leg injury that required surgery in '08, a year after he transferred here from UNM. He's the kind of guy you want on your team. Older, been around, worked his way back from an injury, has dealt with adversity. His presence on the practice field has been a positive one. He will get his snaps behind Deehan and alongside Thornton. He's helping some of the young guys, and he sets a good example. He works his butt off. Like Deehan and Wood, he has been practicing a little bit as the FB.
  • Ryan Deehan, Jr
    • The only other upper-classman. He has played both of the last two years and is poised to have a pretty good season. He has pretty good size, and is very solid in all areas. He has good hands (I've seen him make a few impressive catches), he runs good routes, he's got solid blocking form and he is strong enough to get the job done. Tyler Hansen has said that Deehan is poised to have a noteworthy year, and I believe him. Deehan offers flexibility (can catch, inline-block, and has been lining up in the backfield to lead-block) and has some good game experience. He should be a nice security blanket for his QB.
  • Clark Evans, Fr (redshirt)
    • Converted QB who is athletic and has good hands. He might be academically ineligible this season. If not, he offers some extra depth at the position. He hasn't been able to practice in the fall, and his blocking in the spring looked average at best. He has some work to do before he's ready to really get on the field, and he'd be the 3rd option at most, though I think he's probably number 4 right now. He has the physical tools to compete at the position, though, if he can put the time and effort in. ***It was reported that he has been ruled ineligible for this upcoming season and is looking to transfer***
  • DaVaughn Thornton, Fr (redshirt)
    • He has been the talk of the last year since he made his first appearance in fall camp in '09. He is an incredibly smooth athlete who can stretch the field from the TE position. He can be split out wide. His blocking has improved and he's gotten some snaps when the Buffs go 'heavy'. His blocking technique still needs refinement, but he is well on his way. He looks to be one of the next great Colorado TEs. He will need to put on a few more pounds before he can truly be the guy at TE, but fortunately he's still got some time before Deehan hands him that responsibility.
  • Alex Wood, Fr (walk on redshirt)
    • He's a little short for a TE. If the coaches decide to designate a current player the fulltime FB, he's my vote. He's got the right size and build for it. He could stand to shift some of his mass to his lower body if he plays more FB. He has taken some snaps there, though, and I think he has a better chance of seeing the field there than as an in-line blocker. The guys ahead of (and now behind) him are a little more talented and have prototypical size. Either way, he is a smart guy who has been helping the true freshmen figure things out. A good team guy.
  • Matt Allen, Fr (walk on)
    • Another guy who is a little short to be a TE, but he is from Mullen so he has some talent. I haven't seen a whole lot from him, but he could also be a FB candidate. I guess we will see.
  • Henley Griffon, Fr
    • He is pretty thin right now, but he has a year or two to develop before he is needed. He has pretty long arms, which should help his blocking, and he's demonstrated pretty good hands.
  • Harold Mobley, Fr
    • He is also thin for now, and the same goes for him as for Henley. They both have some time to develop. He has broader shoulders than Henley does, but his arms seem to be a little shorter. We will see how the two of them develop.
  • Kyle Slavin, Fr
    • Of the three true freshmen TEs on scholarship, Slavin looks the most ready to see the field. He runs pretty good routes and he is bigger than the other two. I wouldn't be too surprised if he sees the field a bit this season.

In 2010:

Deehan is number one and Thornton is number two. Deehan offers better blocking for now, and probably a better grasp of the offense. But Thornton will be on the field this year and has as much potential as anybody on the Buffaloes. Between those two and Luke Walters, we're actually pretty well off for this year. The freshmen should all be able to redshirt and focus on gaining weight and learning the offense this season, though Slavin could potentially see the field in 2010. We might see something from Evans (if he qualifies) or Wood, but the top three should see most of the playing time there. It will be interesting to see just how many snaps the TEs see in the backfield as lead blockers. That's something to watch this year.

Beyond 2010:

Deehan has two more seasons, and Thornton still has all four seasons to play, which is excellent news for the TE position. If Clark Evans can continue to improve, and at least one of the true freshmen can contribute, this position will be set for years. Riddle has been drilling these guys pretty hard on their blocking technique, and I think this position will be a boon to the offense as we go forward.

***Developments from the scrimmage***

There are two new "Tight Ends" on the roster. As I'm sure you read, Matt Bahr and Scott Fernandez were moved from the O-line to the TE position as extra blockers in short yardage situations. Bahr is a former starter and Fernandez is a walk on. They were buried on the depth chart along the O-line, and they will actually see the field here. They aren't really TEs. In fact, they are still O-linemen, but beginning to practice with the TEs will give the Offense a little flexibility. If one of those guys has reliable enough hands (Fernandez caught a TD in the scrimmage) they can mix up the play-calling enough to really keep opposing defenses guessing. Those two guys should get meaningful snaps each game, though Bahr will be the first option since he has plenty of game experience. It's a great development for the team, and evidence that we have really been developing depth at different positions. Not just depth, but quality depth. These two guys won't really take snaps away from the TEs, so it is not a slight on the guys there already. These two guys are just a lot bigger and stronger, and have spent much more time on blocking technique. Anyone want to put money down on who gets a TD reception first between Nate Solder and Matt Bahr?

Positional Outlooks:

Running back
Defensive tackle

Inside Linebacker

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at: David.Gerhardt@gmail.com

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