Oregon State has a host of talented players at tight-end. This position has a lot of depth and proven pass catchers. The depth will be needed as the players will be called upon to perform the physically demanding dual role of catching passes, blocking for running backs, and protecting quarterback Derek Anderson against heavy pass rushes.
|Newton could be a future all-Pacific-10 selection.|
Sophomore Joe Newton tops the long list of skilled men. Newton is an athletic player who runs disciplined routes and has excellent hands. He has a mean streak and does not shy away from contact. His experience playing alongside NFL and Buffalo Bills player Tim Euhus will benefit him greatly this year. Tight end has been a solid position since Marty Maurer played for the Beavers. Maurer garnered Pac-10 honorable mention honors as a senior, while Euhus earned All-Pac-10 credentials his senior season. Newton has the ability to be an all-conference performer as well and could earn postseason honors in 2004.
The Beavers often use a two tight-end set. During these sets senior Pat Loney or junior Dan Haines will join Newton on the field. Loney is also good at running routes and catching the ball, but is more of a blue-collar tight-end. He will not make many spectacular plays, but will provide the team with a consistent, fundamentally sound game.
Haines is a questions mark heading into 2004. He had a superb freshman year in 2002 as he was a significant part of the Beaver offense catching 10 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. Haines had knee surgery in off-season in ’02 and never fully recovered. He played little in 2003 catching just one pass. Perhaps with a year to recuperate Haines will once again become the dependable player he was in ’02.
Junior Jeremy Weldon sits at fourth on the depth chart, but will see plenty of playing time, just not at tight-end. Weldon served as the Beavers short snapper for most of ’03 while also acting as a fullback during short yardage situations. The coaches like his aggressive attitude and his blocking ability and will use him again in ’04 as a fullback.
Basketball player Jim Hanchett earned a scholarship for football after impressing the football coaches during a workout. Little is known about Hanchett’s football ability, but the coaches must have seen something to offer him a spot on the team. Hanchett is an excellent rebounder in basketball who never gives up on a play. His leadership skills along with his athletic ability are a valuable addition to the team.
|Loney will see plenty of time on the field with Newton.|
As always, the tight-ends are an integral part of Mike Riley’s offensive playbook. This year they will be relied on even more to provide quarterback Derek Anderson with adequate protection and the ability to make a quick completion. The tight-ends must make the catches they are supposed to make and, like the offensive line, make a commitment to blocking. The unit has the offensive skills, but the question remains if they have the total package.