Some of his most successful teams have come when University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino has had loaded deck of players at the tight end position, not only with the Cardinals but also at other stops.
"People know how much coach Petrino likes to use the tight end," senior Cole Hikutini said.
Well, this year with the Cardinals Petrino has his pick of tight ends to work with as the position is among the deepest on the U of L roster. With four players expected to play this season, Petrino can also get creative with formations using the tight ends.
"Our tight ends are great," sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson said. "The tight ends are big bodies but they're skill level is like a skill player. It's fun to watch them do what they do. They make my job a lot more easier."
"I like what I see in that room," Petrino said. "We have some really good players and some guys who are working hard."
Cole Hikutini, Senior
Hikutini was a bit of a breakout performer last season but was hampered early in the season by injuries. He played in 11 games and caught 19 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Hikutini has been sensational in the spring and early fall camp. He's a John Mackey Award Watch List member and is starting to get a few whispers from NFL Scouts who have been at U of L's practice.
"He's so big and strong but can also run," Jackson said. "He's like a really big skill guy."
A transfer from City College of San Francisco, Hikutini is one of Cardinal Authority's candidates to lead the team in receptions.
Charles Standberry, Junior
With all of the other weapons at tight end, some might forget Standberry caught the first touchdown pass of the season as a true freshman two years ago and two of his seven catches that season went for scores.
As a sophomore, Standberry was playing more wide receiver going into the season and was back and forth a bit before finally settling in at around 245 pounds and as a tight end.
From all indications, Standberry has been tough to tackle in the fall camp. He's got great hands, is athletic and physical enough to catch passes over the middle or go down the field a bit. He's a major target for Jackson this season.
----Crum was a huge factor early last season, catching 13 passes for 161 yards and two TDs in the first four games. His only catch the rest of the season was a 2-yard TD against Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl. He's added some strength and has great hands, so should be a very reliable target for Jackson this season.
----Towbridge has played in 35 games and has started 10 for the Cardinals during his career. He has been hampered by injuries since last season, noting he never played healthy a year ago. He had offseason surgery on his foot and is healthy. Towbridge has 19 catches for 261 yards and three TDs during his career.
----Jordan Davis is also on the roster now and working out with the Cardinals. The former four-star tight end from Texas spent one season at Texas A&M before opting to transfer to U of L. He'll sit out and be eligible next fall. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Davis was an early enrollee last spring at Texas A&M, played 11 games for the Aggies and had two catches for seven yards. He scored a 3-yard touchdown in his first career game against Ball State. Davis will be a huge help in the meeting room with the four prospects playing for the Cardinals.
----The staff has seen good things from freshman Austin Cummins, who needs to add some weight and strength before playing. He'll redshirt this season and be ready to go next fall in the rotation.
----Juniors Tyler Polston and Paul Logsdon are walk-on players at the tight end position for the Cardinals.
----Gary Barnidge had 53 receptions during the 2007 season, the most single-season catches for a tight end under Petrino at U of L. The U of L record for catches in a season by a tight end is Jamie Asher's 70 in 1994.
----Later tonight, a feature on U of L tight end Cole Hikutini.
----Tomorrow is the feature on the quarterback position, Read all about Lamar Jackson, Kyle Bolin and the others at QB.
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