J.D. Brookhart is trying to build Nick Kasa into a tight end and he thinks he's off to a pretty good start since the former defensive lineman decided to switch positions late last fall.
There are two more experienced players at the position this spring, but Brookhart already believes Kasa is the most well-rounded because he has the size and strength to be an effective run blocker and he is serviceable in the passing game but still has a long way to go there.
Brookhart wishes he could put Scott Fernandez's understanding of the offense into Kasa's mind as well as the heads of one or two of his three incoming freshmen tight ends. It sure would solve this problem in a hurry.
Fans shouldn't be surprised to see Fernandez on the field next fall, particularly early in the season as the freshman transition.
"Scooter knows everything," Brookhart said. "Scooter is an ex-o-lineman. He's limited to what he can do in the pass game, but he gets the position. He can play. He can get involved."
Kyle Slavin is the other tight end on the roster this spring. He is in his third year in the program now and still hasn't managed to make an impact, despite a solid spring last year catching the ball. He made two touchdown catches in last year's spring game, but wasn't heard from much during the season.
"Slavin has to show up and be a good move guy for us," Brookhart said. "That's his challenge this spring.
"He's got some carry over to get done. Last year, he physically wasn't able to handle the point. That's his challenge that he's got to get done right now. He's got to be a move tight end that can handle a Buck and occasionally a backer and occasionally an end and do some things like that. Physically, he's got to be able to do those things."
As for Kasa, Brookhart said he has no choice but to turn Kasa into a success story at tight end. He said the offense is depending on Kasa being able to contribute. The others, including at least two of the three incoming freshmen, will play and have their moments, but the team is relying on Kasa because he is the most ready from a physical standpoint to fill the role.
"I can speculate and I'd be wrong," Brookhart said when asked who the two most likely true freshmen are who will play. "But we need help. We need depth at that position. Sometimes the last guy you took is the one who turns out to be the best. You never know what's going to happen. I would anticipate two of those guys playing and getting in the mix."