SPRING PREVIEW: Tight End

IT'S ONE OF the off-the-radar, but still pressing questions for the Cougs in 2011 – will the tight end position become more involved in the offense this season?

The answer might depend in large part on 6-foot-5 Aaron Dunn.

A true freshman last season, a broken wrist settled the issue of whether Dunn, who has a huge ceiling, would play or redshirt in 2010. The biggest thing going against Dunn's prospects for playing time this early in his career has been his relative light weight. He arrived at WSU in the 230-range.

Washington State has not released updated weights this spring but CF.C has learned Dunn was tipping the scales last week at right around 250 pounds – welcome news for Coug fans who want to see what the Spokane product can do.

Wazzu is expected to be cautious with Dunn this spring, however, as he tests his surgically repaired wrist in full-pad situations.

And with all the receiving targets present in the WR corps, how or if Washington State chooses to use the tight end and h-back in the offense might not be fully answered this spring.

AS GOOD AS Dunn can potentially be, he has zero Pac-10 playing experience. That isn't the case with Skylar Stormo and Andrei Lintz, both redshirt sophomores, who have gotten in lots of work in WSU's system.

But the facts speak for themselves -- their play down the stretch last season dwindled to just about zero in favor of starting another receiver, putting an extra lineman in at the tight end spot or going with two RBs in the backfield. The TE production in the receiving game was also virtually nonexistent in 2010 – between Stormo and Lintz they had but one reception, a Lints touchdown.

Stormo's a very hard worker, and Lintz has all the physical tools. But the hard truth is that the tight ends have simply not gotten the job done consistently enough and that meant a decrease in playing time. Until they take care of business -- especially blocking- and assignment-wise, they're not going to be out there, let alone become pass receiving weapons. It goes without saying it's an important spring session for both.

Rounding out the depth at TE this spring is Jared Byers, who is not yet completely healed following a knee injury in last year's opener, Michael Fennerty, a former Olympia High standout who was on scholarship at Louisville from 2007-09, saw limited action with the Cardinals and left the program, and Zach Johnson, a 6-4, 230 pound redshirt freshman out of Stanwood.


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