Wednesday, March 04, 2015

UConn spring preview: Tight ends

A year ago the pickings were so slim at the tight end position that true freshmen Steve Hashemi and Sheriden Lawley were moved from offensive line and defensive line respectively to give the Huskies enough options at the position.

UConn's incoming freshman class includes three players projected to play tight end so Hashemi and Lawley have moved back to the positions they were recruited to play because  However, the newcomers won't be around to take part in spring practice leaving the returnees plenty of opportunities to impress the coaching staff.

Senior Sean McQuillan is a gifted receiver who had four games with at least three catches a season ago. McQuillan was asked to do more in-line blocking a season ago than at any other time since he has been at UConn. McQuillan has packed on eight more pounds as he is closing in on 250 pounds which should help him in the blocking department.

Tommy Myers was the best blocker among the tight ends and he added 12 pounds. He didn't get as many opportunities to run pass patterns of the other tight ends but he will look to prove to the coaches that he can be a reliable receiver.

Speaking of receiving ability, Alec Bloom has a ton of it. Some people might think he was related to me with as much as I touted him potential a season ago but he just exudes big-play ability as a receiver. He lost playing time because he simply wasn't strong enough at the point of attack to take on defensive linemen and linebackers. However, after adding 22 pounds, Bloom seems to be putting himself in position for a much more expanded role as a sophomore.

Frank Verducci, UConn's new offensive coordinator, has a reputation of being a proponent of old-fashioned power football. That could result in more multiple tight end sets and with only one returning fullback, it's not out of the question that tight ends could be used as H-backs or even lining up at the fullback position.

"How we get there will depend on the talent available on Saturdays and what their strengths are," Verducci said. "It may not always be a fullback, it may be a second tight end or a third tight end. The beauty of this offense is the offense allows us to create matchups and my job is to find the matchups."

Ian Campbell, Zordan Holman and Chris Lee are all coming into the program which is why Hashemi and Lawley were able to move back to their previous positions. I will repeat what I said in yesterday's preview of the receivers, the 15 days of spring practice will be a perfect time for players like Myers and Bloom to give them the advantage in beating out the incoming freshmen for playing time in the fall.

Bob Diaco will be speaking to us today via a teleconference so look for more on his thoughts as we are quickly approaching the start of spring practice.


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