Position Probe: Tight End

An in-depth take, position by position, as the Illini transition from spring drills to summer workouts.

Just imagine you could create a tight end tag team on paper -- dream up two players to man the position to max out potential playmaking and mismatches.

You might end up describing Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse.

The thought of those two in the fold or on the field together is plenty enticing.

Two of the most athletic players on the roster, the possibilities and scenarios could be discussed for days.

The problem is, this spring the two paired together in formation could only be a thought. Both missed the majority of work with injuries.

They're expected back in full form for fall camp, which is good news for an offensive coordinator in Bill Cubit that likes to explore any and all options. If healthy, Davis is a serious threat. He can line up as a traditional tight end, as a wideout or in the backfield. He could catch the ball or he could run the ball. Pre-snap he could be in one place and by the time the action starts he could be in another.

It's really fun to think about. For a player who's battled injuries his entire career, he's just got to be out there to fulfill his potential.

LaCosse is the more traditional tight end, and call me crazy, but he has the look and frame of a next-level guy. His production could line up with that kind of billing this season. Just because the offense is searching for a go-to replacement for Steve Hull's huge numbers doesn't mean it has to come from a new wideout. Why not LaCosse?

Youngster Tyler White has grown up quite a bit, too. Now a sophomore, he's a guy with one of the highest ceilings on the team. Don't let those drops in the spring game cloud your judgement — White is a guy that should command targets next season and for years to come. Just how much is he ready for? And will the opportunity for playing time be there (if Davis and LaCosse stay healthy)? Those are questions that won't be answered until the fall.

Lastly, don't forget Tim Clary. He's not going to wow anybody with his measurables or game, but he's the hard-nosed type that every football team needs hanging around. He can be of use as a blocker, either on the line or in the backfield, and might surprise a few defenses by making a catch or three this season.

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