The tight end position is a keystone for the Rutgers pro-style scheme, and new offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen has one of the best in the country in junior Tyler Kroft. ScarletReport.com takes a deeper look at the position heading into training camp.
Kroft showed as a sophomore that he is the real deal, and his momentum is building despite missing almost all of spring to nurse an injury. Kroft made the John Mackey Award preseason watch list this morning, and will be on plenty of other superlative lists heading into the season.
Between Kroft and Michigan’s Devin Funchess, the Big Ten east has dynamic tight ends. Kroft caught 43 balls for 573 yards and four touchdowns as just a co-starter with Paul Carrezola last year. He is the top contender to lead Rutgers in catches, though Leonte Carroo is the biggest overall receiving weapon. The cause for concern with Kroft comes on the injury front. He battled injuries through training camp last year, and again in the spring. He should be full go for camp in three weeks, and will need to be 100 percent for Rutgers to jump off to a fast start.
Kroft faces little competition, but backup reps and time in double-tight end sets are up for grabs. Sophomore Nick Arcidiacono is your leading contender for the second spot on the depth chart. He had a strong spring with the first team while Kroft recovered.
Kroft has two years of eligibility left, and tight ends coach Anthony Campanile has to begin the grooming process of younger faces in the program. Lister missed his first spring on campus, and Behr sees his first action when training camp begins. With Lister as a blocking type and Behr as a receiving type, there is time to grow.
Rutgers has tight end commitments from Anthony Folkerts and Nakia Griffin as well. Folkers comes from a high-school background as a receiver and Griffin is an athlete that plays multiple positions for Tenafly (N.J.).
Kroft’s name isn’t quite up there yet with Marco Battaglia, L.J. Smith and Clark Harris. The potential is there to surpass them all but his 46 career catches and five touchdowns are a long way away from the rest. Kroft’s progress from skinny high school lacrosse player to now is remarkable, and the development must continue.
The difference? Kroft will be playing in the spotlight of the Big Ten, and Rutgers needs everything he has to help the rest of Friedgen’s offense reach its potential.