An offensive position that is well stocked for the Bearcats in 2007 is tight end. The old staff recruited a number of players at the position, and with the change in offensive philosophy, four players changed positions in the spring to become tight ends in Coach Kelly's system.
The leader according to the recently released depth chart is Doug Jones. The senior from
Although Connor Barwin begins the 2007 season listed as the 4-th tight end, he's probably the favorite to win the job after serving as Brent Celek's back-up for the last two seasons. After all, he is the most experienced at the position, but Barwin has not helped his cause by playing basketball the last two offseasons. To make matters worse, Connor suffered an injury during spring football while playing pick-up basketball and missed most of spring practice. The 6' 4" Barwin makes a nice target, but there are plenty of contenders for his job, and he'll need to stay healthy and focus entirely on football if he wants to become the starter in 2007.
Another veteran not listed on the depth chart is sophomore Kazeem Alli. Like Barwin, Alli was injured during the spring and got little on-field experience with Coach Kelly's new system, but Alli is very talented. At his listed weight of 260 pounds, Alli brings a very nice blend of size and speed. Kazeem must prove he's again healthy, but this guy could vault to the front of the group this summer and have that breakout year Bearcat fans are waiting for.
One of the surprise position changes last spring was moving veteran wide
receiver, Earnest Jackson, to tight end.
The ex-high school quarterback made a big splash as a freshman receiver
when he caught 24 passes and was voted UC's "Newcomer of the Year." But
The beneficiary of Barwin's and Alli's spring injuries was redshirt
freshman Ben Guidugli. The injuries
to the frontrunners allowed the
Another redshirt freshman at the position is Reggie Fugett, but unlike Guidugli, Reggie was injured for much of the spring and missed a lot of valuable practice time. The 6' 6"/240 pounder, who's father played in the NFL, is probably too far down the depth chart to contribute much in 2007, but he could very well be a force at the position in the future.
The final player listed at tight end is walk-on Nick DeFilippo. The
Although not listed as a tight end, Adrien Robinson (WR) may eventually be perfect for the spot. As a 6' 5'/225 pound true freshman, the Warren Central wide receiver projects as a very interesting candidate to eventually make the position switch. Natural maturation coupled with Paul Longo's weigh room workouts could turn Robinson into an NFL caliber tight end candidate, but I don't see that happening in 2007.
Next week, Bearcat Insider starts to look at the 2007 Bearcat defense.