Spring Ball preview: Tight end

After suffering through injuries which severely hurt the depth last season it appears as if the tight end spot will be a relative strength for the Trojans next fall with healthy players returning and a bumper crop of talented recruits ready to contribute if needed. Here's a look at how the tight end position will look for the upcoming spring ball period.

After suffering through injuries which severely hurt the depth last season it appears as if the tight end spot will be a relative strength for the Trojans next fall with healthy players returning and a bumper crop of talented recruits ready to contribute if needed. Here's a look at how the tight end position will look for the upcoming spring ball period.

Spring practice will mark the return of Alex Holmes after Alex was able to see limited action in the bowl preparations last December. Alex was forced to miss the 2003 season with a back injury originally suffered in the Orange Bowl but he has made steady progress and now is ready to resume his role as a leader on the team. He's an incredible blocker who also has excellent hands with the ability to be a solid short to mid range weapon. Alex has been a valuable member of the Trojan program on and off the field so hopefully this spring marks the beginning of a successful return to the field next fall.

Dominique Byrd continues to rehab from his knee injury and he will take part in limited action during the spring without going through major contact drills. We saw last year how much of an impact it can make with a downfield pass catching tight end like Byrd in the Chow offense and Trojan fans would love to see more of the same in the future. Dominique is just a terrific athlete who presents a lot of match-up problems for the defense.

One of the players who stepped up last year with the injuries to Holmes and Byrd was Gregg Guenther. Gregg has spent the last several weeks with the Trojan basketball team providing a toughness and a swagger that he brought with him from Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Field. He also had his share of big plays last year from the blocked kick against Cal to the one handed TD reception in Arizona to a huge 3rd down catch in the Rose Bowl. If all three of these primary players can stay healthy it will be a terrific rotation for Chow to throw out there featuring players who can do a lot of different things.

There will be several others in the mix looking to grab playing time including Matt Cassel, who is playing for the Trojan baseball team right now, Kurt Katnik and Nick Vanderboom. In the fall we will see a trio of incoming freshmen with Dale Thompson, Jimmy Miller and Michael Stuart. This group will also have a new position coach as Pete Carroll has added longtime NFL assistant Carl Smith to the staff.


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