2003 Outlook: TE

Kellen Winslow returns to the Hurricanes after recording the most catches ever in a season by a Miami tight end. Winslow, a first-team All-America selection by CNNSI.com in 2002, caught a team-high 57 passes for 726 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

His 11-catch 122-yard performance in the championship game last season was extremely impressive on college football's biggest stage. Last season he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which is handed out to the nation's top tight end. Winslow returns as college football's best tight end.

Winslow had a great spring, which impressed the coaching staff. It is always encouraging when star players practice hard. He performed well during the spring game, leading all receivers with 101 yards on give receptions including a 39-yard catch from Derrick Crudup. Winslow will cause match up problems for defenses because of his size and athleticism.

Backing up Kellen Winslow will be junior college transfer, Kevin Everett. Everett originally signed to go to UM in 2001. He always wanted to attend Miami and told other recruiters to stop recruiting him because he wanted to be a Cane. Kevin Everett is the epitome of a Hurricane. He was considered by many to be the best junior college tight end in the country last year.

The Texas native had an impressive spring as well. His 4-yard touchdown reception from Derrick Crudup shows that the quarterbacks have confidence in his abilities as a pass-catching tight end. Everett is a good backup for Kellen Winslow and allows the offense to go into a two tight end set when needed.

Buck Ortega has been working out this spring at tight end. He caught an 18-yard pass during the spring game from Marc Guillon. Since his arrival at Miami, Ortega has been shifted around by the coaches trying to find a position he can excel at. The former Gulliver Prep star came to Miami as a quarterback, but has shown promise as a tight end this spring.

Curtis Justus is a redshirt freshman from Perry, Oklahoma. He was one of the top tight ends in the country as a prep star from the Sooner state. Justus is still recovering from a major leg injury he suffered in November 2001. Another surgery might be needed before he takes the field again. Justus looks to improve his abilities and gain some experience this season.

Brandon Sebald is one of two New Yorkers on the team (LB Leon Williams is the other). Sebald caught one pass last year for 14 yards. He uses excellent technique when blocking and soft hands. The six-foot-six Sebald has bulked up since arriving at UM adding nearly 30 pounds since the 2001 season. Brandon will be competing for playing time along with Justus.

Former tight ends, David Williams and Eric Winston have moved to new positions this season. Williams is playing defensive end and Winston is being shuffled around on the offensive line looking to start at left tackle.

This group of tight ends should be one of the best in the country. Winslow is the best tight end in the country and Everett should be a solid backup. Ortega is still learning his position, but will improve over time. Justus needs to get healthy for him to be effective and Sebald should continue to work on his pass-catching skills. An offensive unit is tough to defend when their tight ends demand attention. This group will be an important asset to the Hurricane offense.

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