Player Capsule: Tommy Hudson
Position: Tight End
Weight: 254 pounds
2016 season quick review: As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Hudson at times played in the Sun Devils' two tight end formations as an extra blocker, but didn't have a catch on the season.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: This is an important season for Hudson. He's had two years to get up to speed in terms of learning how to play the position competitively in the Pac-12, but been forced to learn three difference offenses at this point in his development. Fortunately for him, the latest iteration of the ASU offense is the one that's best suited for him, and capable of providing him the biggest playing opportunity.
It's also a good sign for Hudson that he was complimented by ASU coaches for how he developed during the spring practice slate. As the Sun Devils' biggest tight end he has a lot of value in this scheme if he can prove to be an effective blocker at the point of attack. Coordinator Billy Napier comes from an offense and a league that has a strong emphasis on using big-bodied multi-purpose tight ends and having the ability to play with two of them on the field at the same time.
While fellow tight end Jay Jay Wilson is a more athletically dynamic player at the position, and as a result will likely suck up a majority of the passing targets, there's ample opportunity for Hudson to carve out a role. What Hudson has to do initially is be reliable in max protection and functional with his great size as a blocker in the run game, whether that's sealing and providing the edge or down blocking, or expanding and sustaining against an end or linebacker in outside and stretch zone plays that ASU will use frequently.
Hudson has decent mobility as a blocker for his size, but should still be able to substantially improve his techniques as a blocker and with his initial release into routes. A lot of it is repetitive habits with his footwork immediately post-snap, and how that sets up the rest of the play. He's also working to access his core strength better as a blocker by having better body posture and leverage as he engages.
As a receiving option, Hudson looks fine moving in space for being a big-bodied player, and has good hands for the position. His whole key to success is how he releases from the line of scrimmage and enters his route. When he does a good job in that regard, it puts him in position to be a short to intermediate type receiving option. This offense provides more opportunities to the position from a route running standpoint and Hudson flourished with those opportunities in high school, and proved to be difficult to bring down after the catch.
Projected depth chart status: Hudson is expected to be the team's starter in 12 personnel sets that include two tight ends, primarily as a three-point inline tight end. But this is an offense that will move its tight ends all over the field and if Hudson becomes reliable in the role he primarily fills, he's sure to see expanded reps and a broader overall usage, including being a third down and red zone target, and potentially even a seam runner on early down situations to force defenses to be accountable to the possibility.