MISSOURI TIGHT ENDS
Year: Redshirt senior
Stats: In 38 career games, Culkin has 37 receptions for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He had 16 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown in 2015.
Analysis: Culkin started at tight end the past two seasons, so he brings more experience than just about anybody else on the offense this season. He’s the kind of tight end who can do whatever is asked of him, whether it’s catching the ball, blocking, moving around in formations as an H-back or fullback. The tight ends may not put up big receiving numbers in the new offensive scheme, but Culkin and Co. should be busy.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Year: Redshirt junior
Stats: In 25 games, Reese has 16 catches for 138 yards. He had 15 catches for 126 yards in 2015.
Analysis: Like Culkin, Reese is another good-sized tight end who can do a little bit of everything for the offense. If the Tigers use more two-tight end sets this season, you’ll likely see Culkin attached to the offensive line and Reese moving around as an H-back or fullback-type blocker.
Year: Redshirt sophomore
Stats: No statistics
Analysis: Blanton, technically the biggest of the Tigers’ returning tight ends at his listed height and weight of 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, figures to get more experience this season after playing in eight games on special teams as a freshman a year ago. Though he could get pushed for playing time by the two incoming freshmen.
Year: True freshman
Analysis: Scales made a late switch in the recruiting process after being committed to Alabama for several months. The Crimson Tide recruited Scales as a tight end, H-back, fullback type of player and he could carve out a similar role with the Tigers early in his career. Scales may be the best suited among Missouri’s tight ends to play in a traditional fullback role, if the Tigers try to go that route. Otherwise Scales may have to earn early playing time via special teams.
Year: True freshman
Analysis: Okwuegbunam is a taller tight end — he’s listed at 6-5 and 225 pounds — who was more of an oversized wide receiver in high school. He could establish a role as a pass catcher but may have to work on his blocking skills, which may take time as he gets bigger and stronger throughout his career.
The Tigers have the unique setup of having returning players in the senior, junior and sophomore classes who have gained experience over the years. Culkin and Reese should factor into the offense with significant roles though it’s difficult to say whether the position will factor much into the passing game.
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