Position series: Tight ends

Cardinal Authority is running a position series as a new preseason football feature to help you get familiar with the entire University of Louisville roster. The first day of the series takes a look at the tight end position.

OVERVIEW

University of Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said prior to last season that he wanted to build depth at the tight end position.

In the U of L offense, Watson likes to use more than one tight end. He likes having multiple options, including that H-back type body at the position.

It seems like the staff has accomplished that mission.

With as many as five options at tight end, the U of L team heads into this season with the tight end position one of its strongest and deepest positions.

"We have the most depth we have had here in a long time," tight end coach Sherrone Moore said. "All of the guys we have, they all have great skill set. We have some older guys and some young guys, it's been nice.

"This offense depends highly on the tight end and being able to move around and with the guys we have, they are so versatile and can play out of so many sets. We have the ability to put them all over the place."

Moore said senior Ryan Hubbell and junior Gerald Christian, a transfer from Florida who sat out last season at U of L, are neck-and-neck for the starting position at tight end with the Cardinals.

A former junior-college transfer, Hubbell caught 14 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard TD against Temple, last season.

Christian sat out last season and practiced at U of L, along with former Auburn transfer Zeke Pike, who is also in the mix for the Cardinals.

Senior B.J. Butler is listed as a tight end but can also play some tight end. He moved to offense prior to the bowl game last season and made a huge impact, catching two passes for 43 yards. One of those passes was a 23-yard reception in the first quarter, to the 1-yard-line setting up a U of L score.

"We've never had this kind of skill set with this much depth and this much possibility at the tight end position," Watson said. "I have been waiting to have tight ends. It's a real interesting venture for us."

BREAKOUT PERFORMER

Gerald Christian, Junior

The expectations are there for the former Florida transfer, who gives the Cardinals a big, athletic target from the tight end position.

The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Christian saw action in eight games as a freshman at Florida and had four catches for 72 yards and one touchdown.

Christian sat out last season at U of L but was able to practice and then also went through spring ball with the Cardinals. He's been tabbed as a top NFL target down the road and should be a major weapon for the Cardinals.

I would expect to see Hubbell and Christian split time with Christian getting a little more as the season goes on.

SLEEPER

Zeke Pike, Freshman

The former Dixie Heights High School four-star quarterback is a redshirt freshman with the Cardinals and is likely to see the field.

Pike signed with Auburn University – as a quarterback – out of high school but was dismissed from school. He ended up at U of L and had to sit out last season.

The 6-foot-6, 251-pound Pike is too good of an athlete not to see the field. He has good hands, runs good routes and is a physical presence on the field.

Expect Pike to get onto the field, and sooner than later.

EXTRA POINTS

*Redshirt freshman Hunter Bowles was projected to be another body to add to the depth but is currently sidelined with a neck injury. Moore said he wasn't sure how long the former Glasgow High School star would be out.

*Former St. Xavier High School standout Tyler Polston is a walk-on with the Cardinals. Polston (6-3, 230) had some Division I looks but opted to take a preferred walk-on spot with the Cardinals.

*Bowles is listed on the roster as No. 15, Christian is No. 18, Butler is No. 44, Pike No. 80, Polston is No. 81, Hubbell is No. 83 and Towbridge is No. 89.

COMING UP NEXT

*Watch later today for a feature on senior Ryan Hubbell and also a short piece on converted defensive end B.J. Butler.

*The position series will continue tomorrow with linebackers.


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