Camp Battle: Tight End

Someone new to the position battles a player on the verge of a breakout season

As fall camp winds down for Oklahoma, there are still a few battles left to be decided. During the next few days, Sooners Illustrated will bring you the six key positions that are still up for grabs. We will break down each candidate for the position, present the evidence and make our best courtroom-like case for the player. At the end, Justin will rule on which player is to be deemed the starter.

It’s time for opening statements.

Tight end

Blake Bell vs. Taylor McNamara

Bell background: Statistically, Bell is a quarterback – having never caught a pass off the line of scrimmage in college. Genetically, he’s a tight end – having a father who played six years in the NFL and an uncle who played 12 seasons. Although his father and uncle were defensive ends, tight end is where Bell has the best chance to follow in their footsteps. That’s why he made the switch. He looks like a tight end. He acts like a tight end. Now, he just needs to prove that he is a tight end.

Case for Bell: Because he is a tight end. Bell’s athleticism is great and has been on display with the Sooners’ use of the ‘Belldozer.’ The biggest question Bell had to answer was whether or not his hands would be good enough at the collegiate level. So far in practice, he’s shown great hands according to coaches and players. But does he know the position? He was a quarterback. He’s teaching the tight ends how to play tight end.

McNamara background: McNamara’s promising career has been derailed thus far by injuries and illnesses, but he’s ready now. At 6-foot-5, he has great size for a tight end and even wears the same number as his boyhood idol, Tony Gonzalez. He earned his playing time in the Sugar Bowl and said during camp that it had resonated with him.

Case for McNamara: Here’s another guy who has followed the natural progression of the program. He started a game as a true freshman, but injuries cut his first season short. He has just five games played in the past two years. He has a great chance to make an impact and brings great athleticism to the tight end position.

Hite’s verdict: This is really a two-horse race with Aaron Ripkowski and Dimitri Flowers occupying a fullback role. Bell and McNamara have their similarities and their differences although both appear to be great options moving forward as a starting tight end. This is truly the case of two good players battling to a spot, not one trying to stand out enough to be called upon. Oklahoma’s Game 1 starting tight end is Taylor McNamara.

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