Part three of the 2011 Offseason Positional Breakdowns will cover the tight ends. It's one of the few positions where we didn't sign any recruits, but that's because we have a bunch young guys there. We are set up better at TE than we were at many other positions, with most of the talent returning. Here is the last round of breakdowns I did going into the 2010 season.
Follow the jump for a look at who we have coming back.
- Matthew Bahr, Sr - After starting 11 games and playing in six more along the offensive line his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was moved to tight end and utility back last season. The move was to add some bulk to the position and to get an additional big blocker onto the field in (really) obvious running situations. He played fairly well and even made two catches, including a touchdown. That makes him our second leading returning receiver at the position. He's lost even more weight, now 6'4" 265, which should help his speed and feet and makes me think they want to get him onto the field more. He's got lots of game experience, though he's still developing as a receiver and route runner. His primary use will be as a blocking tight end, but I guarantee he will also get thrown to this year. He looked pretty impressive catching the ball for not having done it much, so I expect him to be a capable pass-catcher this year. If his speed has improved as well, he may very well become a legitimate weapon for the offense. Unfortunately, he's out for the spring as he recovers from an offseason surgery.
- Ryan Deehan, Sr - The veteran at the position. He's got prototypical size at 6'5" 250 and decent speed and has caught 40 passes for more than 400 yards the last three seasons. He is a capable blocker and has been pretty versatile in his time at CU. He still hasn't caught a ton of touchdowns, with two in three seasons, and I don't really expect that to change. He's got good hands, but very little ‘wiggle' or much in the way of elusiveness. He will still catch plenty of passes this year, but I think we see even more of the passes going to TEs going to the young guys.
- DaVaughn Thornton, So - Speaking of young guys, he was supposed to explode onto the scene for us last year. He didn't, but he did have one pretty impressive TD catch and should've had another. He spent more time on the field than people realize, and I think that trend continues, only with more passes going his way. He is an impressive athlete, and the only knock on him is that he's still only 225 lbs at 6'4". He's going to need to get bigger to really become a regular, especially with the new Offense that we will be implementing. He's actually a pretty good blocker, but his size makes it hard for him to really anchor against defenders in pass-protection and move guys in the run game. If he doesn't start bulking up, he might get passed on the depth chart by one of the younger guys.
- Alex Wood, So - A walkon from Steamboat Springs. He's big, at 6'2" 255 but not particularly tall. I have a feeling he might get a look at fullback because of his build because you usually want your TEs to be at least 6'3" or 6'4". That's just a hunch, though. I didn't see a ton of him last spring or summer, so I can't say a ton about him.
- Matt Allen, So? - He's listed on the roster as a sophomore, but I think he's actually a redshirt freshman because he walked on last year as a freshman. He's a Mullen kid, but he's even shorter than Wood at 6' 245 lbs. I think he may also be given a look at FB. He was solid the few times he caught my eye last summer, but he definitely gives up a lot of height to the other guys at TE. He looked like he had long arms for his size, but that may not be enough to play there. I really think his best position may be FB.
- Henley Griffon, RFr - He's quite an athlete. He's put on a little weight, but is still only 6'3" 225 lbs. He's fast and quick, though, and looked like he had pretty good hands. I think he will be a player at some point, but I think he's behind another one of the TEs in his class.
- Harold Mobley, RFr - He needs to put on some weight! He's still listed at 6'4" 215 lbs, which is mighty light to be inline blocking at the division I level. He's got long arms, which will help, but not that much. There were mutterings that he would be given a look at QB this spring, but he's still listed as a TE on the depth chart. If he continues having trouble putting on weight, he might have to try to play as a wide receiver, but I'm not sure he was fast enough for that. We'll have to watch how they use him.
- Kyle Slavin, RFr - The biggest of last years TE class at 6'4" 235, and he looked like the best blocker of those guys in Summer practices. He's got long arms and a pretty big frame. I think he ends up somewhere around 250 lbs. He also was a pretty smooth route runner and had solid speed and hands. He should be a very good all around TE. He looks to have the lead on the other two Redshirt Freshmen, and I definitely see him getting on the field this year. He may never put up huge numbers, but I think he could easily be a 4 year contributer in the mold of Deehan. I think he may have better feet than Deehan and looks like he may be better in the open field as well, so he should be a very good target for us in the next few years.
So that's it for the tight ends. We didn't lose much last season, but we will this year with Deehan and Bahr graduating, so hopefully we'll see some of the youngsters really step up. Also, Deehan started last year on the Mackey Award watch list, and I expect that to happen again this season, only I think he stays in the running all year this time. He's a veteran going into his fourth year of starting in some capacity.