Countdown 2007: Tight Ends

The "Legion of Doom" is led by Martellus Bennett, but senior Joey Thomas has plans of his own for this year's tight ends. Aggie Websider breaks down the Aggie tight ends, which is another weapon for an offense that appears to be locked and loaded heading into 2007.

The Texas A&M offense comes into the 2007 season positively loaded at several spots, and the tight ends are no exception. Returning starter Martellus Bennett and backup Joey Thomas–a backup who would start at tight end for most Division 1-A teams–are back for their junior and senior seasons, respectively. Dubbed the "Legion of Doom" by the always entertaining and media-friendly Bennett, this year's tight end position will continue to offer junior QB Stephen McGee some big–and fast–targets, in addition to providing outstanding run support.

Bennett should pick up right where he left off last season, after finishing second on the team with 38 receptions for 497 yards, including three touchdowns. A semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation's best tight end, Bennett was a 1st Team All-Big XII selection by the Dallas Morning News. Though lighthearted on and off the field, Bennett is completely focused in pursuit of his and the team's goals this fall. "Everybody knows what they want," Bennett said. "Everybody's on the same page, and we're all aiming for the same goals." And it's no secret what those goals are, as Bennett adds matter-of-factly, "I want a Big XII Championship."

Since his arrival at Texas A&M two years ago, Bennett has been one of the most popular players among the Aggie faithful, in whom Tellus awakened memories of dominant tight end play at A&M in years past, by the likes of Mike Jones, Derek Spiller, and Dan Campbell. Bennett's repertoire of skills, however, may rank him above those who have come before him. In addition to superior blocking ability, crisp route running, and soft hands, Bennett has demonstrated speed typically unheard of from a 6-foot-7, 255lb tight end.

During last season's game against Baylor, with the Aggies scrimmaging from their own 25, he grabbed a quick slant over the middle from QB Stephen McGee and then shocked the sold-out crowd as he outran every defender on the field to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown scamper. Bennett finished that game with five catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns, earning Mackey Award Player of the Week honors in the process.

Bennett's 'Legion of Doom' counterpart Joey Thomas returns this fall for his last season in an Aggie uniform–one he means to make the most of. "I'm trying to make an impact this year," says Thomas, "and I plan to do it." Another devastating run blocker, Thomas caught 10 balls last season for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He also grabbed a couple of successful 2-point-conversion receptions. "I've really got to praise J.T.," says Offensive Coordinator Les Koenning, "He's gotten his weight up and he's done a really good job."

Koenning is also quick to note the 'Legion of Doom's' impact on the offense as a whole. "Our kids have tremendous faith in both of these [tight ends]. They know they're going to get into the right areas. With Martellus you can never tell sometimes. He's pretty extravagant at times. He says ‘just throw it up to me,' and I say,'no Martellus, throw it up to you isn't a play that we have,' but it's good he has that confidence."

Koenning will also be looking for ways this fall to get some playing time for sohpomore Andrew Key, and true freshman Frank Avery, who may be called upon to shoulder the load next fall after Thomas' graduation and the potential early departure of Bennett to the NFL. Coaches have had some praise for the young backups so far, but don't assume that translates to automatic inclusion in the L.O.D. As Tellus is quick to point out.

"You don't just come in and be part of the Legion of Doom," he said. "You've gotta earn it. So once we feel like they've earned it, we'll put them in the Legion of Doom."

Don't let all the off-the-field humor fool you, however. This team is deadly serious about its goals. And along with this year's talented, veteran tight ends, the Aggies march into 2007 with an impressive array of weapons, and a calm, almost quiet but unmistakable confidence that they finally have everything they need to make their goals a reality–this season.

"I think we have everything," Bennett said. "All the intangibles, everything we need to be a championship-caliber team."

It's been a long time since Aggieland has been abuzz with this much excitement, and this much optimism, prior to a season. Apparently Bennett and his teammates aren't the only ones feeling an increased measure of confidence in what the team could accomplish this fall. For Joey Thomas, its simply a matter of recognizing they have the ability, then exercising it. "We have the potential this year," he says, "we just have to make it go."

Thomas' attitude toward his team's title chances seem to reflect a growing conviction among coaches, team, and fans alike. Quite simply, "We can do it."


Dallas Shipp's interview with Martellus Bennett:

Dallas Shipp's interview with Joey Thomas:




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