TE Not Barren

Last spring, there was concern - beyond star Evan Engram - about the tight end position, a slot very important in the Ole Miss offense. But even with a dismissal of Sammie Epps over the summer, TE Coach Maurice Harris is pleased with the players he has to work with this fall camp/season.

If one paid attention during spring training, the tight end position could easily have been described as "iffy."

Evan Engram was essentially the only "sure thing" at the position.

Sammie Epps, no longer on the team, was very green. Matt Brown and Taz Zettergren were coming off injury-riddled seasons. Jeremy Liggins had been moved to offensive tackle and Nick Parker was lost to graduation.

To say TE Coach Maurice Harris was scrambling is an understatement.

But by the time spring ball was completed, Engram was Engram - a stud - and Brown and Zettergren had elevated their play to a level of trust with Harris. Mo was breathing a bit easier.

Then, in the offseason, the coaches opted to shore the position up by moving Liggins back to tight end and, kind of out of nowhere, the Rebs were the beneficiary of a fifth-year senior transfer in 6-4, 235-pound Dillon Barrett.

Harris left his fretting behind.

"I feel good about my room now," noted Harris. "We start with Evan and Jeremy as our stalwarts. Everyone knows what Evan can do and he will only get better. Jeremy's size-speed-power ratio, at 6-3 1/2, 295 with a 4.8 40, is off the charts good and I think you will see a lot more of him this year in an all-around tight end role. He's a great kid who only wants to help the team."

He also likes the look of Barrett.

"The word I have gotten from the weight room this summer is that Dillon is very strong. I know he's going to give my room some maturity. I'm anxious to see what he can do," noted Harris, "and I have to say, Matt and Taz had outstanding springs when all was said and done.

"I trust them to contribute."

Harris said to keep an eye on two newcomers as well. Maybe not for this year, but certainly for the future - Willie Hibbler and Dawson Knox.

"Willie has a world of potential and is already a 240-pounder. He's long and lean. He reminds me of Ferbia Allen. He had a car wreck last year, so he's a little behind in his strength, but he's catching up quickly," Harris noted. "Dawson comes to us from Brentwood Academy and is a 6-4, 225-pounder who was hurt most of his senior season. Had he naot been hurt, he would have been recruited by a lot of schools. We are lucky to have him."

So the bottom line, says Harris, is encouraging.

"We went from needing help in spring to getting it during spring with the blossoming of Taz and Matt and then in the summer by getting Jeremy back and adding Dillon Barrett," he closed, smiling. "We're going to be OK."

OK indeed.


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