Fall Camp Preview: Tight Ends
Off to the NFL goes former tight end David Morgan. Not only was the sure-handed Morgan a record-setting receiver, he was one of the best blocking tight ends in the country last season. That leaves a huge void to fill in UTSA’s offense in 2016. Luckily, the Roadrunners have some depth and options at the position.
- David Morgan: Graduated. UTSA’s first-ever All-American, Morgan is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings after being taken in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Cade Laufer: Graduated. Was used primarily on special teams the last two seasons.
- Triston Crossland: Was used sparingly in 2015. Left the team prior to spring practices.
- Trevor Stevens: One of the more experienced players on UTSA’s roster in terms of games played (33), Stevens returns for his senior season listed as the starting tight end. Look for Stevens be heavily involved in the run game as well as getting thrown into the fold in the passing game. He could emerge as one of the teams’ leaders this season.
- Shaq Williams: A class of 2015 Juco transfer who redshirted last season. Based on a strong spring performance, Williams appears to be in the mix for playing time this season. He is listed as one of the backup tight ends on the post-spring depth chart.
- Jordan Jones: A graduate transfer from Gardner-Webb, Jones played in 11 games last season. He has one season of eligibility remaining and is eligible to play right away.
- Austin Blake-Smith: A Juco transfer from this past December, Blake-Smith is a lengthy target. He enrolled at UTSA in January and participated in spring practices. He is listed on the roster as a senior but is petitioning the NCAA to get one year of eligibility back.
- Jack Giblin: A member of the 2016 recruiting class, Giblin is making the transition from a big, physical WR to TE. He’s a prime candidate for a redshirt.
- Seth Damrow: A walk on from O’Connor HS in San Antonio.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Trevor Stevens is a proven commodity for UTSA, especially in their run-blocking schemes. The unknowns are Jordan Jones and Shaq Williams. Williams is a big, physical presence who is surprisingly nimble for his size. He had good spring practices that saw him catch many passes. Jones is an unknown. He shows good ability on film but he didn’t play much at Gardner-Webb. The fact that he’s a graduate-transfer with one season of eligibility remaining usually means that he’ll give it his all to try and earn playing time.
1. Who fills the role left by Morgan? Look for Trevor Stevens to get the first crack at the task. But it isn’t fair expect just one player to fill the void left by Morgan. Likely, it will be by committee. We’ll likely see two tight ends step up this season from the trio of Stevens, Williams, and Jones. Who they will be remains the question.
2. Is there enough playing experience at this position? After Stevens, there isn’t a lot of games-played experience on the roster. The new players will have to get accommodated to Division 1 game-action if they’re looking to get into the mix for playing time. The positive aspect of this is that Stevens should be able to use his 33 games-played experience to help the others come along.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Production by committee. UTSA has a good mix of talented players at their tight end position. Some have strengths in some blocking, while some have strengths in receiving. But a David Morgan-type of a player isn’t suiting up for UTSA this season. So we will likely see the production come from two or more players. If UTSA’s tight ends can continue to block well and make the occasional play in the passing game as a group, then that will equal success for the unit.
Starter: Trevor Stevens
Backups: Shaq Williams or Jordan Jones
Reserves: Austin Blake-Smith, Jack Giblin, Seth Damrow