Yes, spring football is underway, and we just got our first depth chart. Unfortunately, it reveals that we aren't terribly deep at some positions (as one could imagine after a 1-11 season). On of those positions is tight end, where we lose Nick Kasa to graduation. Oh Nick, we hardly knew ye...at least as a tight dnd. With the promising Vincent Hobbs home to attend to family needs, there isn't a lot of dynamic production left in the group. That isn't to say the kids we have aren't capable, but only two have any game experience and they don't have many catches between them.
Scott Fernandez, Sr - He came to CU as a Walk on defensive lineman under Dan Hawkins, switched to offensive line, then switched to tight end, he slimmed down, was placed on scholarship, and is now a Senior and the leader of a position that is pretty thin. Mid-spring, he is listed as the #2 guy. This doesn't necessarily mean he takes over if the #1 guy goes down, though. I think he's the bigger, 2nd TE-type player that comes in specifically to runblock in short yardage situations and in heavy packages. He's an on-the-line Y kind of guy, and probably won't be running many routes this year, even though his one catch last season was a 71 yard touchdown.
Kyle Slavin, Jr - Isn't the tallest guy, but has solid size and athleticism. He has developed pretty slowly here, but he finally did demonstrate that he could contribute in the passing game last season. Blocking is the thing he needs to improve most, but with more quick passes in the offense this year, he may be able to spend more time on the field than he would in a ‘pro-style offense'. I could see him having a nice year, especially since he'll be getting a ton of reps this offseason, but he isn't a dynamic threat for us.
Vincent Hobbs, So - This guy does look like he could be a dynamic threat for us. He is currently home with his family to help look after his Dad who had a big surgery, so we hope his family is alright and that he can return to the team at some point. He showed a lot of promise last season.
Sean Irwin, RFr - Sean is a guy that was recruited to be more of a blocker at the position, and since practices were closed last summer, I haven't been able to see him in action. He's on the smaller side still, but he's currently listed as the 3rd guy out there. He had good film coming out of high school, but hasn't played much for a long time after a leg injury ended his senior season. We'll see what he can do this offseason.
Austin Ray, RFr - I know I'm not the only one who is excited to see this guy in action. Great size and pretty good speed, at least in high school, so I hope he's higher on the depth chart by the end of spring ball. At a position desperately needing some depth, improvements by this guy could really change our outlook here and help to give the offense some flexibility.
This is a thin and inexperienced unit. Of course, it was last year too, and Nick Kasa showed up. We'll see if someone can step up here as well. We all were hoping Nick would last year, but this year it's tough to say who the guy will be, or if it'll be anyone. I think Ray has the most potential (besides Hobbs, but his status is up in the air), so I'll be keeping an eye on him as best I can this offseason. I have a feeling that we'll see more receptions by the fullbacks because of the lack of people at the tight end position.
I thought I'd start us off with the thinnest position (at least some of the other worrisome groups have guys that will come back from injuries, where there aren't any TEs recovering from anything), so that we can feel better as we go along.
Bold prediction for the 2013 Season from the tight ends:
Austin Ray leads the unit in touchdowns in 2013.
Next time I think I'll take a look at the safeties.