Spring Outlook: Tight Ends

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Sometimes life teaches you not to mock others by putting you through the exact same thing at a future date. Last season I had a good chuckle when Phil Steele announced Vaughn Charlton as one of his choices for All-MAC at tight end. It was amusing because Charlton was an OK Quarterback the year before and had never played Tight End at the college level.

This year UB is in a similar situation with last years backup Quarterback Alex Dennison. Dennison was in the mix for starting Quarterback last season and played as well as anyone (not that you want to hang your hat on being par with last seasons Quarterbacks).

When Zordich set his red shirt ablaze Dennison was moved to tight end.

The move, at first seemed puzzling, but then I saw Alex play special teams with more intensity than half the guys who had been doing it all season. Dennison is a ball player and you want him on the field, period. If he does not work at QB, put him on at tight end, or special teams, or where ever.

He was a deceptively big guy last season and he only got bigger in the off season. Dennison is up more than 20 pounds from last September going for a smallish end to a properly proportioned one.

So what does the entire set of Tight Ends look like?

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Alex Dennison:

He won't get to wear that cushy red shirt this spring but watching him take and give hits on special teams last year leads me to think he's not going to miss it one bit.

I'm still marginally skeptical about moving a QB to tight end. Despite Phil Steele's prognostications about Charlton last season the once QB had little impact on Temple's season. Still there are some serious advantages to moving a QB to the end position

First they should know the offense as well as anyone on the field. On top of that they might know where they can best help a Quarterback should protection break down.

Second is that QB's generally have a higher football IQ than most of the other players. He should quickly learn the ins and outs of the position.

Dennison is a bit shorter than the rest of the tight ends (3 inches) but he is smack in the middle of them in terms of weight (241)

186340_683040074_3418103_n_mediumJake Reeder:

Reeder was starting to grow into the role last season before a knee Injury against Temple sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the year.

In the three games before Temple Jake caught five balls for 52 yards and showed pretty good hands in doing it.

He is far more adept as a receiver than a blocker, maybe because he is 15-20 pounds lighter than the rest of the ends. In Quinn's ideal offense those hands are way more important than a tight ends run blocking and Reeder showed he had the goods last season.

Maybe the biggest question is how will his knee hold up and does the bulking up of the line mean more time for slimmer tight ends or will the coaching staff look for bigger tight ends as well.

N647742237_383164_8879_mediumAaron Connacher:

Connacher first started playing with UB in 2007 playing in 10 games and starting in three. During his freshman campaign the Jamestown product caught five passes in four games.

Aaron used his redshirt in 2008 returning the following year as a regular on special teams but found little use on an offense that was all about Jessie Rack on the end.

Even last season, after Reeder went down, Aaron did not get a whole lot of work, catching only three passes for 35 yards. But all around the tight ends were not very utilized last season and I suspect even if they were our general offensive woes would have kept their stats on the unimpressive side.

What is impressive about Connacher is the size. At six foot five and just under 260 pounds he is looking more like some of the guys on the defensive line than a target for our Quarterbacks. That alone might get him some looks from the coaching staff.

If his blocking matches up with his size he could, at the very least, be a solid situational player on the offense (think 3rd and short).

161262_100000188850899_194509_n_mediumJames Gordon:

After red shirting in 2009 and being a non factor for most of 201 Gordon had his coming out party happened to be in our most embarrassing loss of the season, against Akron.

The Freshman caught five passes for 54 yards. He did more in one game than any other end did throughout the season, but it was against Akron. Three of those catches came on third or fourth down keeping some critical drives going.

Right now it's probably a horse race for starting time among these four guys. I would assume that Reeder and Dennison are starting at the pole position but we have a totally new offensive coordinator and seemingly a somewhat new view on 'balancing the offense' . This might give the edge to Connacher. Assuming that he uses the extra bulk to better pave the way for whoever wins out at tailback.

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