Continuing with the "what we learned from fall camp" series, we focus now on tight ends, who I was super stoked on last year and who were woefully underutilized the same.
The reason? I'm not totally clear. Maybe it was the QB play? Maybe it was the line. Maybe it was the tight ends themselves. That's in the past though. This year, there's literally nowhere to go but up. The leading returning receiver at the position (Clark Evans) caught 9 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. All year. If this were 2007? That could be half a game for Davone, or Jason or basically any of the receivers. In sum, all of the tight ends caught 33 total passes. 33! Which seems like a really super low number until you consider that our leading receiver had only 35 receptions (Billy Ray). Alright so maybe we DO know the reason.
In any case, things seem to be looking up this year, particularly from a depth standpoint. There were three who rotated heavily during practice. Harold Moleni, Clark Evans and Jordan Puu-Robinson (the other tight end they'll carry into the season is Craig Cofer.)
It's tough at this point to project who will start since each guy has a clearly defined skill set and some equally defined weaknesses. The guy with the best hands is Harold. It's not close. He rarely dropped a pass and effortlessly looks the ball in every play. He's also a very good blocker, but he is not as fast, probably, as the coaches would like. Clark Evans is the most balanced. He's got the best body out of the three, and is the fastest. But he is really lacking as a blocker. Puu-Robinson can block, but is still learning the nuances of the position (as a converted Defensive Lineman).
Combined together they would be an all-conference tight end. Individually? I think that Harold's reliability and hands will make him the most immediately playable. Whether he stays that way throughout the season remains to be seen. Hopefully consistent production can develop at some point (although sooner than later would be nice.)
Image of Harold taken from the Warrior Beat Blog on the Star Advertiser.