Tight ends versatile for Jayhawks

In the past, Charlie Weis has had what one might call a successful track record developing tight ends. During his stint at Notre Dame, all three to start for him at the position heard their name called in the NFL Draft. Kansas might not have that type of talent yet, but it's improving - and tight ends coach Jeff Blasko is excited by what he's seen.

Already the position looks a great deal different from spring football, thanks to the addition of JUCO transfer Charles Brooks and senior transfer Mike Ragone - first recruited to Notre Dame by Weis.

However, Blasko stressed that the returning players were stepping up their own games as well.

"It's been a huge upgrade," he said, of adding Brooks and Ragone. "In saying that, Trent (Smiley) and Jim May (Mundine) have done a great job in terms of improving from spring on to fall camp, but obviously you're got more depth and you've got more experience with the addition of Mike Ragone and Charles Brooks."

Each of the tight ends brings something a little different to the table. Brooks, for example, is a 6-foot-6, 240-pound athletic specimen who excels in the passing game but needs work in other areas - namely blocking.

"That's something that we're working on right now, in terms of getting him down in a three-point stance, coming off the football and putting his face on people," Blasko said. "And in the passing game he's got a pretty impressive skill set. He catches the ball extremely well, knows how to use his body. He's good at the top of the routes - just has a knack for getting open."

Ragone, meanwhile, brings a veteran presence and leadership in addition to his physical skills. He and Mundine appear to be the most "all-around" talents of the tight end group, while Trent Smiley is a potentially dominant blocker at the point of attack.

It took a short time to shake the rust of Ragone, who missed most of the 2011 season with an injury. Additionally, while he may have been recruited by Weis it has been two years since he last played in his offensive system. But he's coming along rapidly.

"He does a great job at the point of attack," Blasko noted. "His run fundamentals - you can tell he's played a lot of football and he's gotten a lot of work in that area. In terms of the pass game he's done a great job n terms of route running and catching the football."

How the tight end will be utilized in the 2012 Kansas offense is ultimately the decision of Weis. Blasko simply sees it as his job to get as many players ready for competition as possible.

"That's really what Coach is known for," he said. "He wants to get as many people ready on the offensive side of the football so he can formation things and use his personnel groups to kind of move guys around to put them in a position to do what they do best."

"That's what makes Coach Weis - that's what separates him from the other coordinators in college football and obviously in the National Football League," Blasko added. "So we're trying to find as many guys as we possibly can to be able to play as many different roles as they possibly can."


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