Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bronco Spring Ball Battles: Tight Ends

If there’s one position on the Boise State football team that fans clamor for coaches to use more, the run-away winner is the tight ends. And for good reason.

During the 2016 campaign, the use of the tight end for some reason disappeared like the Vandal’s College Football Playoff chances. It’s a unit that in the past had been a huge part of the Bronco offense.

Primarily used for extra blocking at the line of scrimmage, Boise State’s tight ends totaled just 29 receptions for 319 yards and two touchdowns. That means 11% of the team’s receptions, 8% of its receiving yards, and 7% of its touchdowns came from tight ends.

On the flipside, additional blocking allowed the Broncos to have a huge year on the ground. Still, in order for BSU’s offense to be its best, the tight ends need to be more involved, both in pre-snap motions and shifts and in the passing game.

All eyes will be on redshirt senior Jake Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz.) this spring and the 2017 season as he should be healthy following a junior campaign plagued with a nagging injury. He is the horse that makes the Boise State tight end game go. He needs to have a big year, not only to wash the taste of 2016 out of our mouths, but also for the team to ascend to the next level.

Coaches have raved about redshirt freshman John Bates (Lebanon, Ore.) and what he can do on the field. At 6 foot 6 and 245 pounds, he is a legitimate weapon that should help satiate the nerves and wants of Bronco fans.

Also on the roster are redshirt senior Alec Dhaenens (Fruitland, Idaho), redshirt juniors Jake Knight (Meridian, Idaho) and Chase Blakley (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), redshirt sophomore Matt Pistone (Yuma, Ariz.) and redshirt freshman Nick Crabtree (Huntington Beach, Calif.).

Knight showed flashes of brilliance with the two receptions he hauled in last year, and has speed to spare. Blakely, Dhaenens, Pistone and Crabtree are excellent blockers and must develop into consistent pass catchers this spring. Crabtree is massive at 6 foot 7 and 267 pounds, and if he can become a well-polished tight end, he will be impossible for defenses to contain. 

Coaches did not bring in a tight end in the 2017 recruiting class as they are confident in the young group they have on the field right now. Coach Kent Riddle and the rest of the staff have said fans should expect more from tight ends this fall.

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