SOUTH BEND IN - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish yells at Mike Ragone #83 during a game against the Utah Utes at Notre Dame Stadium on November 13 2010 in South Bend Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Utah 28-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The tight end position was a spot that had been pretty stable for Kansas in recent years. Tim Biere entered into the picture following Derek Fine and immediately took over the starting position for the duration of his tenure as a Jayhawk. It was one of the bright spots during the Turner Gill era but also represented a player that we were probably never allowed to see at his full potential. Biere was often held back for pass protection because the Kansas quarterbacks spent the last two seasons on the run.
With Weis Kansas has a few new faces to blend in with those younger players brought in by Gill. The true ability of the offensive line will probably go a long way toward determining how often we see a tight end in the passing game but with a pro-style offense the position is important regardless. Given his history, this should be an area that Weis can recruit well and use effectively on an ongoing basis.
- Mike Ragone - Ragone is a 5th year Notre Dame transfer who struggled to reach his potential in a similar fashion as Dayne Crist. This is his last chance and the draw of Charlie Weis has been enough to bring a kid from New Jersey all the way to Kansas by way of South Bend. The first thing that stands out is the size. Ragone stands 6'4" 255 and he has the look of a traditional tight end. The next thing that is noticeable is his desire to win. Ragone has stepped into a leadership role almost immediately just as Dayne Crist did. He's a 5th year, he has one shot left and it's all business. Ragone should start, hopefully he can stay healthy, but others will certainly see the field throughout the season.
- Jimmay Mundine - Mundine has been on the tip of everyone's tongue for the better part of a year. He was the hot name coming out of spring ball and into last fall. Everyone expected him to contribute and yet he rarely saw the field. Once again there seems to be a buzz about Mundine. His route running ability, athleticism, catching ability are the most common strengths, but Mundine has put a larger focus on becoming a complete player and that might allow him to finally carve out a little more playing time.
- Trent Smiley - Smiley has been noted as the best blocking tight end in the group and that might be why we've also seen him at fullback. Smiley stands 6'4" 245 and has always fit into a more traditional tight end profile. This coaching change could prove to be a very good one for him depending on how the competition pans out but he would have the look of a player that could turn into a Mike Ragone type player for Kansas after Ragone's time in Lawrence. I'd look for Smiley to crack the lineup during the year this year as well but at least preliminarily he appears to be behind Ragone and Mundine for the majority of minutes. That said, Mundine has been in this position before.
- Charles Brooks - The tone surrounding questions about Brooks seems to represent some level of caution. Brooks is has been described as a basketball player playing tight end. He's extremely athletic, great size but very raw. Brooks measures 6'6" 240 and he played in a spread offense split from the line. Coach Blasko has been charged with getting him comfortable in a blocking role tight on the line so that he can be a complete tight end for this program. How much playing time he sees will be dependent on how quickly he makes that adjustment. Even so, you'd have to think a 6'6" athlete could find himself in a specific personnel grouping at one point or another.
- Jordan Smith - Smith is the current 'tight end of the future'. He's a true freshman at 6'5" 230. He's athletic and stepping into a great situation under Weis. Smith will have the opportunity to develop into a very solid tight end prospect during his time at Kansas, it's just a question of how quickly he sees the field. Now Weis doesn't seem to be opposed to jumping in with two feet and starting a true freshman. They are certainly being allowed to compete. You just have to wonder how realistic that is at a position with a 5th year transfer and some solid depth behind him. A redshirt could be a great option for Smith, but I wouldn't rule anything out just yet.
This was a position that seemed destined for a potential dropoff after the departure of a four year starter in Tim Biere. Now Kansas has provided a big boost to the competition with a 5th year transfer and a junior college transfer. Those two additions along with the overall accountability within the program have seemingly transformed this spot. If everything continues down the current path, Kansas will have options and competition, both of which are very good things.