With recruiting heating up and fall camp around the corner, it is a good time to assess how the Buffs are looking at each position going into the season and for the upcoming years. So far we have covered quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Next up are the tight ends. Below is the depth at the position by eligibility year as we stand today:
|Summer Eligibility Chart - Tight Ends|
|Ryan Deehan||DaVaughn Thornton|
|Matthew Bahr||Scott Fernandez|
|R-FR||2011 SIGNEES||2012 VERBALS|
2011 Season - With former Colorado tight end Jon Embree returning to his alma mater as head coach, many expect the tight end position to be featured much more in the 2011 offensive game plan. Embree obviously believes in the importance of the tight end position and has spoken many times this offseason about getting them involved more this season. The Buffs return proven tight end senior Ryan Deehan. Deehan saw the increase in production Embree was talking about this spring as he finished third in receptions with nine catches for 110 yards.
Last season, the 6'5" 250 pound tight end finished fifth on the team in receptions with 25 for 249 yards and one score. He was a primary target in the Baylor game, grabbing a game high seven receptions for 70 yards. But he also had six games where he caught less than two passes. It is safe to expect Deehan to have a bigger role in the 2011 offense under Embree.
As for preseason accolades, Deehan was named to the third team on Phil Steele's 2011 Preseason All-Pac 12 team.
Depth - Behind Deehan is sophomore DaVaughn Thornton and redshirt freshman Kyle Slavin. Deehan has more experience than both Thornton and Slavin and is considered the best blocker in the run game but Thornton and Slavin are the X factors of the offense this year. Deehan is plenty capable of being a playmaker but specifically Thornton, a 6'4" 225 pound sophomore, could be a major weapon if his football skills catch up to his athleticism. Two years ago in the spring game, Thornton caught two touchdown passes but he only had one reception during the season while appearing in 10 games. In the two scrimmages this offseason, though, Thornton caught 6 balls for 82 yards, finishing fifth overall which again shows a new commitment to the tight end. Thornton didn't play in the spring game due to a neck injury but he is supposed to be fine for fall camp. Buff fans have visions of DaVaughn being a big threat over the middle of the field this year similar to the way former Missouri tight end Chase Coffman used to terrorize Colorado.
Kyle Slavin, a 6'4" 235 pound redshirt freshman, also had a great spring from the tight end position. Slavin caught five passes for 68 yards and two scores this offseason. He had a great spring game as he was on the receiving end of three passes and two scores. Expect Deehan, Thornton and Slavin to all see extensive action this year. When the Buffs go to a two tight end power set expect former offensive line Matthew Bahr, a former offensive lineman, and Scott Fernandez, a former defensive lineman, to enter the game.
2012 Recruiting -No 2012 prospects have been signed yet
Bottom Line: Under Dan Hawkins, the tight end position was not an integral part of the offense. With Jon Embree now at the helm, Colorado has already shown that they will get the ends in the offense. Three of the six leading receivers this spring were tight ends. Embree has said many times this offseason that the Buffs will often deploy two tight ends. If Embree and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy can get the defense to respect the tight end in the offense, it should allow playmakers like RB Rodney Stewart, WR Toney Clemons and WR Paul Richardson to have bigger years.