With that in mind, and our determination to bring a fresh approach to an age old preseason football magazine chore of previewing a team position by position, we are going to preview the 2009 Cowboys by presenting two scenarios at each position. There will be the best-case scenario in which the team deals with no injuries and no drop-off in production from last season at each position, and what that position can contribute to the season. Then we will follow the best case scenario with what we call the fire-drill scenario. This will present potential catastrophic problems and what can be done and which players could step up to keep the team going and the excitement from the preseason prognostications of an epic campaign alive.
Obviously, we are rooting for the best case scenario but head coach Mike Gundy will be the first one to tell you that in the course of a college football season – especially one where a team plays a schedule with six likely opponents in the Top 25, seven teams that went to bowl games in 2008, and the ultra-rugged Big 12 South – there are always pitfalls and adversity, most in the form of injuries. You have to have a team that is ready to execute a fire drill and get it right.
86-Wilson Youman, 6-5, 248, So., St. Martinville (Martinville), La.
89-Cooper Bassett, 6-5, 242, R-Fr., Tuttle, Okla.
14-Justin Horton, 6-4, 230, R-Fr., Henderson, Texas
We said before spring practice began that tight end was going to be one of the most fun positions to watch because of the young emerging talent, and we weren't wrong. The tight ends came a long way in the spring and while two of the players at the position have yet to take a Division I snap the depth is considered good with four players that are all capable.
Best Case: Like it is throughout the team the best case includes no injuries. For a position that is loaded with such youth it also involves early season games, after Georgia, that present opportunities for extended playing time for Cooper Bassett and Justin Horton to develop more under game conditions.
There is no Brandon Pettigrew but Jamal Mosley, as predicted, took over the top line on the depth chart. Mosley has really good ball skills, is very athletic, and improved through last season and this spring on his blocking ability. Mosley is also continuing to develop each opportunity in the weight room. Wilson Youman gives you a very solid blocker for the two-tight end formations.
"We're very comfortable with (Jamal) Mosley, Cooper Bassett, Justin Horton and Wilson Youman," said Gundy. "We feel like they are good young tight ends. Obviously, they are not where Pettigrew was. You are talking about a first-round pick (in the NFL Draft), but they are good young prospects, and they had a good spring and a good offseason. We should have more depth there."
In time, you will probably see all four of the tight ends play during games, even play significant snaps. Bassett has started reminding some of a young Billy Bajema and is a big strong player that could be a devastating blocker. Horton is just the opposite, a smaller tight end with great speed that can line up at wide receiver. Horton did some of that in the spring and will likely do it more in the fall.
Fire Drill: The Cowboys can withstand an injury or two at the position but more than that would really thin things out. The talent is so encouraging at tight end that multiple formations using multiple tight ends are under consideration. If they are developed then injuries could knock those out of the game plan. As long as Mosley and/or Youman stay healthy, giving the Cowboys some experience at tight end, then the position should be okay.