Garnet and black clad faithful have been calling for the use of the tight end as a receiving threat for years, and now with Coach Spurrier at the helm, it appears that they will finally get their wish.
Redshirt freshman Jared Cook will play a key role in the offense's change of approach this year. The 6'5, 235 pound wide receiver turned tight end will add another dimension to the Gamecock offense with his ability to spread the field as a receiving threat. Cook, who was also a star basketball player coming out of high school, enjoyed a productive spring, and he was named the "Most Improved Tight End" at the conclusion of spring camp.
Cook is an amazing physical specimen, as he runs the forty yard dash in 4.5 seconds and claims a 35 inch vertical. With the Gamecocks array of talented receivers, Cook's presence is sure to cause headaches for opposing defenses this coming season, especially in red zone situations.
However, Cook will face some stiff competition in fall camp with the return of senior Andy Boyd from injury. Boyd, who has suffered through an injury plagued career, has two career pass receptions, both of which went for touchdowns. You can't be much more efficient than that, however everyone around the Gamecock program knows that, if healthy, Boyd is capable of much more. Coach Spurrier recently addressed Boyd's continued recovery from off-season ACL surgery, as well as what talents he brings to the table.
"Andy is doing well. He's back from his injury. He's not quite 100 percent, but Andy is a good leader. He's a solid tight end, and it's good to have Andy back."
Robert Pavlovic is another player who enjoyed a successful spring camp and appears ready to contribute in 2006. The 6'4, 245 pound junior only totaled 2 receptions for 18 yards in 2005, but he established himself as both a quality blocker as well as a receiving threat on his way to being named the "Outstanding Tight End" at the end of the spring.
David Laggis will also compete for playing time once fall camp arrives. The former defensive end was moved to tight end in the spring of 2005, but he only saw limited action last fall. At 6'5, 250 pounds, Laggis has established himself as more of a traditional blocking tight end, and he can also be used in the H-back role.
One newcomer who could potentially figure into the tight end rotation this year is freshman walk-on, Foxy Foxworth. The 6'4, 250 pound Foxworth did not have the luxury of playing in a pass-oriented offense at Wando High School (Mount Pleasant, SC), thus he did not receive much attention from college scouts. However, Foxworth raised some eyebrows when he impressed as both a blocker and a receiving threat at the Shrine Bowl practices last season. Scout.com rated Foxworth as a 2-star prospect and the #79 tight end in the nation last year, and he will be given the opportunity to show his ability as a preferred walk-on this season.
Projected Starter: Jared Cook
Projected Reserves: Andy Boyd, Robert Pavlovic, David Laggis, Foxy Foxworth
This has been the fourth piece in a continuing, eight part series of position previews.
Stay tuned to GamecockAnthem.com for continued, comprehensive coverage of South Carolina football.
2006 Position Preview: Tight Ends
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