Position Preview: TE

Overall, it was an off season for the usually reliable tight end position at Iowa. Fortunately, C.J. Fiedorowicz's performance late in 2011 provided hope for this fall.

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - For the first time in a long time, the Iowa's tight end position struggled through much of a season. Things finished up pretty well there, though, leaving hope for 2011.

Then true sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz began to realize the potential he carried as Scout.com's No. 2 tight end prospect nationally in his recruiting class coming out of high school.

In the final three games of '11, Fiedorowicz totaled 10 receptions for 95 yards and all three of his touchdowns for the season.

"This is only 39 springs I've been in, and I've never had a tight end like C.J. with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and also stretch the field," new offensive coordinator Greg Davis said.

That was saying something for Davis, who had coached a lot of talented players at the position, including the Packers Jermichael Finley.

The 6-foot-7, 265-pound Fiedorowicz can be a assignment nightmare for opponents. The Illinois native usually is too fast for linebackers and uses his body well to fend off defenders who manage to keep up with him.

"Sometimes guys like that they're open when they're covered. I mean, the defense is in good position," Davis said. "There's been several times this spring where it's a one-on-one situation. The defensive guy is where he should be, James (Vandenberg) is throwing the ball, and it's a completion, just because of size and match-ups."

Senior Zach Derby (6-3, 240) returns after starting five games a year ago. The Iowa City native is more of an asset as a blocker, but he did catch 12 passes for 117 yards in '11.

True sophomore Ray Hamilton (one catch, 15 yards) is the only other returning tight end to receive a pass. The %%MATCH_9%% native features agility and speed on his 6-foot-5, 248-pound frame.

Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble hit the field for the first time after red shirting in '11. Both players are smooth and athletic but need to improve their blocking.

Davis said in the spring that he planned to feature the tight end position in this year's offense. He meant that to be beyond Fiedorowicz.

How the inexperienced guys at wide receiver perform could determine how often Davis utilizes tight end in the passing game. It's likely that two of them will see significant playing time and could move up to three or four players getting involved.

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