The one tight end with experience, the senior's absence has created many opportunities for younger players to get reps, as the search continues to replace a duo of talent loss to graduating.
"Ben (Cotton) and Kyler (Reed) were great tight ends for us, but obviously they graduated. It's time for some people to step up because there are positions open in the group," said sophomore David Sutton." It's a fun group. Everyone's eager to learn. Everyone's diving into the playbook and everyone's getting a lot of reps. There is a ton of competition out there. Everyone's competing for a spot. The room is up for grabs."
Sutton, who starred at Lincoln Southeast high school, played sparingly last season appearing in three contest, but didn't record a catch.
"I feel great about what I have been doing so far. We still have a lot of practices left and obviously the coaches want to continue to see the position grow," said Sutton. "We have made great strides at the position."
The former Knight was able to watch Reed and Cotton very closely over two seasons and feels he can hopefully bring a unique skill set at the position.
"I like to think of myself right down the middle," said Sutton, when asked to compare his game to the duo. "I can stick my nose in there and block, but like to think that I can go out, run routes, and catch a lot of passes."
Sutton will be excited to see Long return, saying he's a leader at the position and the one guy with game experience the younger players can look up to, but it's likely he will the extra work.
"It's definitely accelerated the process when older guys go down and guys are thrown into the fire. Our coaches expect the next guy up to know everything," said Sutton. "It's been great to get extra reps."