Impact Report: Chase Blakley

It seems like athletic tight ends have always come at a premium. You can go all the way back to Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome to today, where college TE's like Austin Seferian-Jenkins have a chance to not only be first round draft picks, but top picks.

Tight ends that can run and catch like receivers but can also block like offensive linemen are essential to any offense - even those that don't use a traditional tight end. But that's kind of the point; as offenses have evolved, so have positions.

A New Breed of Tight End - The verbal commitment of Chase Blakley, a 6-foot-4.5, 235-pound tight end prospect from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to the University of Washington Tuesday was simply more of the same for the Huskies. Seferian-Jenkins is the most obvious example of how the position of tight end has evolved with the new emphasis of spreading the ball out and finding receivers in space. Even offenses predicated on those tendencies that don't employ a true tight end - like Oregon - still have tight end-sized athletes like Colt Lyerla running routes, catching passes, and blocking. Blakley, as it is assumed with 2013 UW tight end signee David Ajamu, will do all those things, but instead of always starting a play from the traditional spot off end he'll probably be split out more, or off the line like an H-Back. The new breed of tight ends allow for so much more flexibility in play calling and scheming. Just look at Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), Zach Ertz (Stanford), Luke Willson (Rice), Joseph Fauria (UCLA) and many others for examples as to the 'new breed' of tight end.

Blakley Film Study - At 6-foot-4.5 and 235 pounds, Blakley is not the same size Seferian-Jenkins was when ASJ matriculated from Gig Harbor High School, but when watching tape of Blakley it's clear both were asked to do the same jobs. Like ASJ was for the Tides, Blakley is less of a tight end for Coeur d'Alene than a big wide receiver, split out wide, catching passes along the boundaries and using his size and speed to elude tacklers. He needs to do a better job of using his natural size to overpower defenders, but that will come in time when he gets bigger, faster and stronger. And as that happens his blocking will also improve. Right now he can overpower defenders because he's blocking defensive backs in space; obviously when he gets to college and is lined up off tackle he'll be taking on players in the box and his toughness and tenacity will be tested. But athletically, Blakley is the full package. He's a fluid runner for his size, has excellent speed and occasionally tries to hurdle tacklers ala Kasen Williams. That should tell you something about how he perceives his own athleticism.

How Will The Numbers Crunch? - Washington isn't expected to sign a big class in 2014. Right now they are currently over their 85 number if all the 2013 signees enroll, so the coaching staff is still in the process of massaging the numbers to make it all work. There are 14 current seniors on the UW roster, and if you add a reasonable amount of attrition that happens in every season it appears the Huskies will likely sign anywhere from 17-19 or 20 players tops. Depending on what Seferian-Jenkins decides to do after the 2013 season - he will then be NFL-eligible but has gone on record saying he wants to finish his eligibility at Washington - there's a chance UW could go after a second tight end in the 2014 class. Michael Hartvigson and Evan Hudson will be seniors in 2014, H-Back Joshua Perkins will be a junior and Ajamu most likely a redshirt freshman (he would be a sophomore if he plays in 2013). If that does happen, there are a number of top tight ends the Huskies are in on, like Utah's Dalton Schultz -'s No. 1 rated TE nationally - Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif.), Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif.), DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kansas), Trevor Wood (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Henry Mondeaux (Portland, Ore.) and Ricky Leonard (Middletown, Mary.) have all been offered already by the Huskies and are all in's top-25 nationally. If one of those players decided to pop in UW's direction, I doubt Steve Sarkisian and his staff would pass up an opportunity like that.

The Value of Summer Camps - Blakley, although offered by Washington during their Rising Stars camp at the end of June last year, was really 'found' during the Northwest Elite Camp at Mercer Island earlier that month. Ironically enough, it was the same camp where David Ajamu's recruitment really blew up too. The NW Elite Camp was a camp is was one of the few local independent camps where college coaches can attend and coach. Washington had a full staff there, and it was at that camp where Blakley earned MVP honors (at linebacker, another irony). It was clear from the way Blakley performed that day that his recruitment was going to take off - so his offer from the Huskies at Rising Stars was not that surprising.

Extending the Fence? - The debate over a 'recruiting fence' will continue to rage as long as Washington has a football program. The Huskies have traditionally used a strong local base as the foundation for their great teams, but lately fans have become to question whether or not Sarkisian has relied too much on players from California instead. Not landing local standouts - especially those with Washington ties like Joshua Garnett, Zach Banner, Max Browne, Jake Heaps, Myles Jack, Danny Mattingly, Keivarae Russell, Cedric Dozier and others - has been a source of non-stop debate in recent years. In the years between 2009-2013, the five years Sarkisian has recruited for the Huskies, he's only been able to land's top rated in-state player once - Kasen Williams in 2011. That year Sark was able to reel off the top three in-state players - Williams, Seferian-Jenkins, and Bishop Sankey - and all of them have gone on to major starring roles for the team since. For 2014, there's only Bellevue's Budda Baker and Fife's Kaleb McGary as four-star talents, and the Huskies are doing very well with both. But the Huskies have also received commitments from two Idaho players - Blakley and Boise Timberline DE/LB Don Hill. The Huskies haven't delved into the Gem State all that often, but their most prolific passer ever - Cody Pickett - came from Caldwell. The only other significant contributors in the modern era from Idaho are arguably Ron Hadley and David Toy - not exactly household names. Will getting early commitments from Hill and Blakley, along with an opportunity to defeat Boise State at the end of August in a newly-renovated Husky Stadium, mean Sarkisian can expand his local sphere of influence to include the rest of the Pacific Northwest? Oregon will be a tougher nut to crack, but Sarkisian has picked up two offensive linemen in James Atoe (The Dalles) and Andrew Kirkland (Portland Jesuit), so it's possible. Top Stories