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Season Preview: Tight End

We are getting closer and closer to football season. 5 days until Kansas football, only 3 until Division 1 action!!!!! It has been a long offseason, I'm ready for it to end...

Last Season
As previously mentioned in the Wide Receiver preview, our passing unit ranked 60th in all of NCAA Divison 1. True story. This would put us basically exactly in the middle, seeing as there are 119 teams in Division 1. The only real factor from the tight end position was Derek Fine, who caught 28 balls for 355 yards and 5 TDs. He was mostly a short yardage target, especially paid attention to in the Red Zone (as most TE's are). His backup, Marc Jones, caught exactly 0 passes although he did come on as a blocker a decent amount.

Returning Players
Besides Fine and Jones, two more tight ends return for next season. They would be the RS junior Derek Spears and RS sophomore Matthew Matte neither of whom have seen the field while at Kansas. Neither really figures to do anything besides stand on the sidelines (if they're lucky) and maybe come out for a couple plays in games well in hand. Technically, Bradley Dedaux is a returning Jayhawk, since he redshirted last year. Whatevs.

Incoming Players
Because Derek Fine had one more year of eligibility, Marky didn't actively pursue TE in the recruiting class of 2007. However, Ted McNulty is joining the team as a walk-on out of Iowa City, Iowa. Odds are he is a Hawkeye fan, meaning if given the chance he would have walked-on there (is that how you say it? walked-on?). However, if they weren't interested in even having him walk-on (new record for # of "walk-ons" in a paragraph) odds are he doesn't have a real impactful future on any BCS squad. Wow, I just wrote off a kid who hasn't even been a member of the football team for a game yet. I hope I'm wrong, weirder things have happened. Regarding next year's class (2008 in case you didn't know what year we were in), we have already received commitments from 2 TE's. 2 outta 8, meaning 1/4 of our commits have been from a fairly obscure position (I know, I have 'math major' written all over me, pulling out the fractions and all). The two TE's that have decided to come to Kansas are actually our two best recruits too (according to Rivals) in Tanner Hawkinson and Tim Biere, both 3 star recruits. Hawkinson is a semi-local boy from McPherson, Kansas and is a bigger kid at 6'6" 230. Biere is from Omaha and stands 6'4" tall while weighing 226 pounds. Just based on reports that I have read and the like, I think that Biere will end up being the football player. Mostly just a hunch, but he just looks like a football player. They don't necessarily figure to play a whole lot their freshman year, Derek Spears will likely get the starting slot for a year before one (or two) of the two is ready.

2007 Tight End Depth Chart
1) Derek Fine, RS Sr.*
2) Marc Jones, Sr.
3) Derek Spears, RS Jr.
4) Matthew Matte, RS Soph.

2008 Tight End Depth Chart
1) Derek Spears, RS Sr.*
2) Tim Biere, Fresh.
3) Tanner Hawkinson, Fresh.
4) Matthew Matte, RS Jr.

I think we wil produce pretty well this year from the tight end position, and even Marc Jones will catch 8-10 balls. Next year there figures to be a drop-off, although I like to think Spears will learn a lot this year and play pretty well next year. Hopefully at least one of Biere and Hawkinson will play a substantial role in 2008, but if neither do it isn't a huge deal. Matte might see some playing time next year too if neither of the incoming TE's are ready, although we could convert an extra offensive tackle as it would likely be used for anything besides blocking.

Next Up: Offensive Line