Signing Day 2007...The Tight Ends

The Arizona offense has always tried to rely on the play from the tight end position. From the super conservative days under Dick Tomey to the Homer Smith developed offense under Dick Tomey the Cats have always had a ‘go-to' tight end that was capable of making a key play when the team needed it. From Brandon Manumaleuna to Mike Lucky and Brad Wood the Cats have had good tight ends.

Now that the Arizona offense is being led by new Coordinator Sonny Dykes and will employ a spread ‘air raid' look it doesn't mean they will not utilize the tight ends. The Wildcats targeted and landed one of the best, if not the best, tight ends in the country in Rob Gronkowski. When the Gronkowski fax came across the reel it guaranteed depth and power at a position that lacked some punch a year ago.

The addition of Gronkowski will bolster a good looking corps of tight ends that has experience and talent. The Cats will return senior Brandyn McCall, sophomore Travis Bell as well as H-Backs Earl Mitchell and Ryan Kilpatrick.

Bell and McCall combine for good experience. McCall is a traditional tight end while Bell is a developing blocker with very soft hands and good route running skills. Earl Mitchell burst onto the scene in 2006 as a true freshman and had a stellar year as both a blocker and a threat to catch the ball. He nabbed a touchdown pass and played a vital role in many of the Cats successful running plays.

Who the starter will be remains to be seen as it depends on just how spread the Arizona offense will be. The true Texas Tech style of the spread does not employ the tight end much while the BYU style employs the tight end as a true pass catching threat. It is said that Dykes will run an attack that resembles that employed by BYU which would lead to Mitchell, Bell and McCall being the leading candidates to start. Gronkowski, however, will definitely see the field in his first year on campus and will look to make a similar splash to the one Earl Mitchell made last season.

Pre-Recruiting Cycle Need…1 TE

SIGNED…1 (Rob Gronkowski) Position Recruiting Grade…A+

The addition of Gronkowski meant that the Arizona coaching staff went out and signed their top target at the tight end position. From day one he was the staff's top target and all along he favored Arizona despite flirting with the likes of Clemson and Ohio State. Yet another top notch grade for the Wildcat staff because in the end they landed their top target for the spot and that deserves a definite A+. The staff again met or exceeded their need at the tight end position.

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