Position Breakdown: Tight End

In the next part of our 'Breakdown" series we take a look at the tight end position. Last season was a dissapointment, but we tell you why there is hope for next year. Read on for the entire story.

Last Season
Looking at the stats, last season was a down year for USF tight ends. However, two factors contribute to the lack of offensive production. First is the fact that USF runs a spread offense with three to four receivers and a running back to block, This takes the tight end off the field all together. The second factor was the poor quarterback play. USF could have had Tony Gonzalez on the field and he would not have caught 25 balls last season.

In total Bull tight ends combined for 19 catches and just over 200 yards with just two touchdowns. The leading pass catcher was freshman Cedric Hill with 10 catches for 139 yards and a score. Will Bleakley and seniors Derek Carter and Mike Ruegger contributed for 9 catches and only 67 yards. Needless to say this group was hardly a threat through the air last season.

Senior Derek Carter never got going last year.

Who's Returning
With Derek Carter and Mike Ruegger graduating that leaves Will Bleakley, Cedric Hill and Ben Busbee as the only returning tight ends. Of the three, Cedric Hill looks to have the most potential to make an impact next season. Hill is a bit undersized as far as weight goes, but he is only a freshman and has a 6-foot-4 frame to add mass to. On the upside he has the speed to run past any linebacker that tries to cover him, and he has the height to go over the top of a corner or safety. If he does his part in the weight room and he is mixed in more on play calling, then Hill could be a guy that has 20-plus catches and 5-10 touchdowns. Especially with the speed of the wide receivers on the outside, Hill could be used to stretch the field down the middle.

Cedric Hill has a ton of potential.

Incoming Freshmen
Andrew Ketchel is the lone recruit brought in this year as a tight end. Jeff Ide did play a little tight end in high school, but admits those were probably the last catches of his career. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ketchel get a redshirt. With three returning tight ends and the lack of plays called for them, it would make sense for him to use a season to add some weight and learn the offense.

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