Spring Preview: Tight Ends

Last season, Greg Olsen was Miami's leading receiver. He applied for early entry to the NFL draft and is expected to be a first round pick in April.

Greg Olsen's departure leaves Miami will three options this spring to fill the void he left: Dajleon Farr, Dedrick Epps, and Chris Zellner. Each of these three players brings something different to the table, and we very well may see them share time in 2007.

Patrick Nix's use of the tight end at Miami will probably be different at Miami than how it was at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had the best wide receiver in the country, and quarterback Reggie Ball focused the vast majority of his throws to the outside. Georgia Tech's leading tight end receiver only had four catches, and was used primarily as a blocker for the Jackets' strong running game.

Traditionally, Miami is known for its great pass catching tight ends. Since 2000, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, and Kevin Everett, and Greg Olsen have all been primarily used as receivers, and since at least 2002, the starting tight end in Miami's offense has been either the first or second leading receiver on the team. Will Nix continue this trend, or will we see him use a scheme similar to what he had at Georgia Tech? This question may be answered in the spring by examining who gets the most reps with the first team.

Junior Chris Zellner

Last season, Zellner started at H-back for the Hurricanes, which can best be described as a combination tight-end/fullback. Zellner was not considered a prime passing target, and tallied only eight catches in 10 games. Despite that, the coaches (on the previous staff) liked his ability to block, and he was almost always the second tight end in when Miami went into its single-back Ace formation. In theory, it stands to reason that he's the best blocker of the bunch (he's the heaviest and most likely the strongest). He's also the most adept to playing in the trenches (he was originally recruited as a defensive lineman).

Junior Dajleon Farr

Probably the most impressive physical specimen of the bunch, Farr was a highly recruited prospect out of North Shore High School in Texas. Standing 6'5" and 250 lbs, he has the prototypical physique for a tight end. Now entering his junior year, he's going to have to learn his third system in three years this spring. So far, he's gotten little playing time, but there's no doubt that he has the skills to perform at the college level. He was considered to be a very good blocker in high school, and played in 11 games this past season primarily as a blocker. He managed to catch three passes as well. He's never really been relied on to be a primary receiving threat at either the college or even high school level, but this spring he'll be fighting for the starting job so he'll have to put his ability on display.

Sophomore Dedrick Epps

Epps was a highly regarded player out of Virginia who inked with the ‘Canes last spring. As a freshman, he saw limited action, but no one doubts his potential. He's got the measurables to be amongst the elite in college football. He played in several games, and even started vs. Duke, but recorded no catches. His freshman year was spent mostly getting acclimated with the college game. He is probably the most talented receiver of the bunch, and is also the fastest. By his own admission though, he needs to work on his blocking. Spring will give him that opportunity.

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