Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tight Ends

Only a few years ago Washington was known as TE University because of the long line of Husky TE's who had graduated and gone onto the NFL. Those days came to a screeching halt in the days of Ty Willingham.

Can you blame it all on Ty?

Not entirely, under Neuheisel, and Gilbertson the Huskies had loaded up at the position by recruiting athletes who were DE/LB/TE/FB types. A lot of these kids were tweeners who didn't really find a fit even though they were moved around quite a bit during there tenure at Washington and ended up at TE which became a dumping ground.

This is Ty's fourth year, and he only has two of his own TE's on the roster, so it isn't like he recruited the position with a lot of urgency either electing to stay with the status quo. He also had an assistant coach who shouldn't have been coaching TE's which may have a little bit to do with the lack of improvement at the position.

I think it all changes this season with the addition of Izbicki, and Middleton. I think both of those kids are going to catch a lot of balls over the next four years.

Dark Years at TE

Gottleib....Walk on from Mercer Island recruited by Gilberston. OK, Mike has started quite a few games, but from a historical perspective he would be a kid that would fit in nicely as a third TE, not your starter.

Kirton....Came in as a huge TB, played some FB, moved to TE but never made the impact. Finishing his senior year as a DT which is where he should have been from the get go. I think most people were pretty sure that Kirton would be an AA TE before he left, but he just didn't get better, and in fact declined from a target perspective.

Winter....Was a HS All America LB who was asked to beef up to play DE, with the beef came the lack of speed which he already was a little short on. Moved to TE last year to shore up the depth. Walt will get some playing time this year.

Lewis....Was recruited by Neu as an athlete and started off on defense before moving over to TE. A better Dash Crutchley who started some games.

Williams....Very raw kid from TW's first recruiting class. Was a throw in at the end of a bad recruiting year. They envisioned him more as a OL someday, but he was a BB player in HS so they wanted to check out his hands.

Crutchley...."Dash"...Great name, not a very good player despite being a good athlete. The classic Neu guy that couldn't find a position. What was your favorite Dash Crutchely moment?

Benn....Brother of the Husky Center was more of a nepotism pick and a bow to HS powerhouse O'Dea. Was never going to develop into a great TE, and injuries cut his career short.

Heater....His dad was surprised when Rick offered him. He stuck it out and had a good experience at UW despite bouncing around and not playing much.

LaSee....Another kid in the Crutchley, Heater, Lewis, Benn, Williams, Winter profile which means they weren't targeted as a TE, but just ended up there for lack of anothe rplace to put them.

Before the decline

UW was still three deep in quality early in the decade, but injuries and recruiting mistakes began to decimate the position. Toledo and Bandell both had AA potential, but were cut down by injuries.

Toledo....Still hanging on in the NFL. He had great talent, but was very injury prone.

Bandell....On a par with Toledo talent wise, but injuries cut him down by Sophomore year.

Lyons....A JC transfer who was a solid and productive backup.

Ware....One of the very good one's to play at UW. He had a little off field trouble, but was very productive as a blocker, and pass catcher.

Collier....Extremely solid during his career at UW as an old school UW TE.

Westra....Was an essential part of the rotation.

This season at TE

UW is reloading and weeding out this position in 2008. Johnnie Kirton moves to the DL and Mike Gottleib arrives this Fall as the incumbent starter. RS Chris Izbicki, and true frosh Kavario Middleton make up the rest of the rotation with Sr Walt Winter.

Gottleib has had a decent career winning a scholarship soon after walking on at UW. He isn't a flashy receiver, but the coaches like the way he follows his blocking assignments.

Izbicki had a decent Spring, and looked good in the Spring game. He isn't a finished product and still has some work to do. He will play a lot this season in a three man rotation.

Kavario Middleton was one of the top recruits in the country last year and the coaches are hoping he makes an immediate impact this Fall. If all goes to plan Kavario should be the starter by the end of the second bye week. The kid has a lot of great tools, and should be the best TE since Stevens moved on to the pro's. Expecting a freshman to live up to that immediately is a tough one, but he has a shot.


While the talent level is going up the experienced depth is simply not there. You have a walk on senior, and two guys that have not played a single game in the rotation. If you suffer an injury Walt Winter comes in play. This position needs another year or two of excellent recruiting to be completely rebuilt.

The Future

Gottleib, and Winter are graduating which means UW will only have two TE's on the roster next season. I could see UW taking 2-3 this recruiting season. You like to have at least five scholarship TE's playing, or in development on your roster at all times.


Anonymous said...

What about Romeo somebody, the walk-on who had some character issues but sounds like he could be a really good TE, and had a solid spring? He'll be #3 next year, and I bet they only recruit one TE in next year's class, plus they'll find another walkon.

hairofthedawg said...

Romeo Savant I think is his name. I've read some good things about his spring, but not enough to make me think he's made the jump from a small HS to contributing consistently yet in the Pac-10. I hope I'm wrong.

prrbrr said...

In the spring practices I saw, Savant was clearly behind the others, on a par with Winter. Of course I also came out of those practices thinking Izbicki had hands of stone and then he proceeds to prove me wrong in the spring game. Yes, somehow somwhere we got away from using the TE as a weapon, it disappeared around the same time as our running game, good OLs, the swagger and Husky toughness. Where are the new McKetas?

John Berkowitz said...

Savant is a guy worth mention, but he needs a lot of work to get laying time.

I agree Prrbrr...Izbicki hasn't impressed eqult to the amount of hype he had coming in, but he has plenty of time to work on it.

This is a very thin position without a lot of experience. That being said overall talent is up with the addition of Middleton who should own the position for the next four years.

prrbrr said...

johnb, I know this is very premature, but if Dom Blackman loses out to Luthur Leonard as the FR QB, do you think he would make an excellent TE ala Stevens minus the baggage. Conversely, if Leonard is the #2 FR QB, when I saw him at a practice b4 he committed he looked to me size wise as a WR/SS body type. Both are very good athletes and I feel could make the switch. Just think if Kirton had bought into being a DE from the get go, or Isaiah a WR where he is now trying to make it with "americas team".

John Berkowitz said...

Prrbrr...I think both Blackman, and Leonard could switch positions in the future, but they will get at least a year at QB because of the lack of depth behind Locker.

UW is in on some pretty good QB's from California this recruiting season.

I like the versatility that Blackman, and Leonard bring as far as being athletes, but they were recruited forst and froemeost as QB's, and will get a fair shot.

The heir apparent at QB is probably Jake Heaps who is only a junior in high school.