When looking at the tight end position on the Bearcats Depth Chart you know one thing is for certain, Brent Celek is one of the best tight end prospects in the country. But while it would be easy for Celek to live off his past accomplishments, he knows teams will be making him a main target when the Bearcats take the field in 2005.
When looking at the tight end position you must look deeper than just the two-deep in 2005. While Celek is the go-to target, the second team spot will be a battle between veteran Hank Davis and newcomers Kazeem Alli and Connor Barwin.
While we know who is number one, let's look at who has the advantage to earn the number two spot in this rotation.
BRENT CELEK - JR
6'4 - 255
While Celek had a breakout year last season, coaches expect even more in 2005. With great size and athletic ability, Celek should be able to increase his production this season. What Brent Celek brings to the field, makes other very good tight ends look average. With the skills and drive to become an All-Big East and All-American candidate this fall, Celek is a great blocker who can help power the running game while still having the athletic ability to get open down field for long gains. Brent Celek is one of the best players in the Big East no matter what position.
HANK DAVIS - SOPH
6'4 - 238
While Davis has worked hard this spring and summer, many in the know feel he's not received the message to gain the weight needed to be a top tight end at the college level. While he showed the ability to make the blocks and catch the passes when needed this spring, Davis is going to see a big push by newcomers in camp this preseason. Hank Davis is a solid player who still hasn't reached his potential on the field.
DOUG JONES - SOPH
6'4 - 284
While Doug Jones will be used as a fullback by the Bearcats, you can't help but notice his great athletic ability when he's on the field. With great hands and blocking ability, Jones could be as good if not better then Brent Celek if he played the position fulltime. But because of his athletic ability, he's a major threat in the Bearcats running game as a smash blocker who can catch a swing pass and make big things happen. Will see major time at fullback, but don't be surprised to see him go in motion and create match-up problems for opposing defenses or be used to help a tackle make a chip to spring a running back for a big gain.
6'4 - 240
When Coach Dantonio talked about Connor Barwin being a major recruit he wasn't kidding. While most true freshmen who enter the college ranks at the tight end position don't look to take the field until their second year, Barwin is the exception. By entering Cincinnati early this summer, Barwin has already made himself known to the strength staff and will be a major challenge to Hank Davis for playing time as the backup tight end. With great athletic ability and the size needed to play the position, Connor Barwin will be a major factor during his Bearcat career.
KAZEEM ALLI - FR
6'3 - 230
Kazeem Alli brings great athletic ability to the field. A true pass-catching tight end, Alli could be mistaken for a larger size receiver. With grace and a long stride, Alli can take a short pass and make it a long gain. But while it will be hard to keep his athletic ability off the field, work in the weight room awaits Alli before he will be the force Bearcat coaches expect from him.
FINAL NOTES: The Bearcats have some of the best tight ends in the country fighting for playing time. Brent Celek takes a backseat to no one and his backups are all capable to making big blocks or catches during a game. Look for Barwin to be on the field early this year and fighting to stay on as Davis looks to keep the young wolves at bay. Two tight end sets could be used to help with max protection or to open up the running game. You could also see Jones lineup in the backfield and shuffle out into a tight end set to be an extra chipper on a power run. Great things are expected out of Coach Staten's troops this fall and I don't see them letting him down.