The Good, The Bad and The Questions: TE

IT'S BEEN A while since WSU had an impact tight end. Good ones like Jed Collins are flat-out hard to find. The Cougs, however, may be on the verge of ramping up production there thanks to a pair of high-upside redshirt sophomores, an experienced senior and a touted incoming freshman from Spokane. In CF.C's ongoing series leading to the start of fall camp, we today analyze the tight end position.

The Good:
Size and experience. The Cougs have two third-year sophomores -- Skylar Stormo (6-4, 260) played in 12 games last year and Andrei Lintz (6-5, 255) played in 11, while senior Zach Tatman (6-5, 250) also played in 11 games. All are well versed in tight end coach Rich Rasmussen's system and consistency should be improved in 2010.

Stormo, all-around, was the most dependable tight end in the Cougars' spring season, making a decent leap forward in his development. He's playing with more confidence and the effect has been tangible.

Stormo has always had natural athleticism but he's now added size, and has become a better pass catcher.

Lintz has all the physical tools to be a great one. He made strides in the spring, most notably in playing more physically -- something WSU coaches have been pining to see since he arrived on campus after a star-studded at tiny Meridian High near Bellingham.

Tatman, who walked on at WSU in 2008 after one year each of JC football and basketball, will be back in action this season after being awarded a medical appeal. He saw considerable time last season in two-tight end set, particularly in the red zone.

Elliot Bosch, a second-year freshman who walked on last season, also could be in the mix, though his future might also find him at center and on special teams. Regardless, he's no shrinking violet and is now pushing the scales at 250 pounds and 6-4.

In addition, there's 6-6, 235-pound incoming freshman Aaron Dunn (6-6, 235), the No. 9 rated high school tight end in the nation this past recruiting cycle and one of's overall top 200 prospects in the nation. In the ideal world, he'd redshirt this first year but given his athleticism and frame, a nose-to-the-grindstone August could put him on the field quickly.

The Bad:
Lack of consistency. All the tight ends need to become more consistent, especially when it comes to blocking assignments. Tatman, who is viewed as more blocker than catcher, needs to show the most improvement in this area and unfortunately missed part of the spring after tweaking a knee. Stormo had multiple offsides penalties in '09, something that speaks to his youth. Lintz, who this spring also saw some time in a fullback/h-back role, can become a star if he plays with a physical, aggressive mentality. But until he does that on every down, he won't reach his vast potential.

The Questions:
Will tight end become a legitimate weapon in the passing game?

Will the tight end blocking make that ultimate difference when it comes to the running game?

How often will the Coug go to their two-tight end sets?

Incoming freshman Jake Rodgers is likely an offensive tackle. But what if he goes out there for the Cougs' fall camp and starts tearing it up at tight end starting on Aug. 8?

How much more motion -- a key component to the kind of offense Todd Sturdy wants to run -- will there be from the tight ends?

Will Dunn redshirt?

Final Thought: Great tight ends, the ones who block and catch with equal aplomb, are rare -- you're talking about the combination of an o-lineman with wide receiver. A great tight end remains an extraordinarily hard weapon to defend in college football. The Cougs have had some good ones over the years but an impact player at the spot hasn't been seen in a while. If the first steps to that kind of development can be taken this fall camp, well, now you'd have a real story on your hands.

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