Ever since Chris Petersen got to Montlake and held over Jordan Paopao as his Tight Ends Coach, the TE room has been the model for class balance and development. There always seems to be balance and talent in all five classes, and those at the top of the pecking order are the ones that have been developed through the system. Last year it was Joshua Perkins who was the senior leader, and this year it’ll be Darrell Daniels.
But Daniels just might get some help.
Tight Ends (by year)
Jeff Lindquist (6-3, 244, RSr.) - Lindquist, who had been a quarterback his first four years at UW, made some very solid moves transitioning to tight end. He already has a great knowledge of the offense, which he put to good use - not just on the field but also in the tight end room and during film study. He also showed some pass-catching ability, an extension of his natural athleticism. Who knows if Jeff can be counted on for production at the position this fall, but he’s poised to take a shot at it, and he just might surprise some people. At the very least, the tight end room added an old head to the mix who can lead and help the younger guys at the same time.
Darrell Daniels (6-4, 237, Sr.) - Daniels is the leader of the tight end room - both vocally and leading by example. He’s expected to pick right off where Perkins left last year, and he will need to. One thing Daniels has steadily shown over the years is his ability to catch the ball. As talented as he was coming out of high school, his hands weren’t necessarily his strong suit. He’s worked hard to turn that perceived weakness into a strength.
David Ajamu (6-5, 246, RJr.) - Charitably-speaking, it was a hit-and-miss spring for Ajamu. He showed early to be fully back from his knee injury suffered during warmups before the USC game last season. But he came out with a big brace on that knee for the last few practices, so who really knows if he’s going to be able to contribute this fall as much as expected. It’s a disappointing end to Ajamu’s spring, who just can’t seem to shake the injury bug.
Will Dissly (6-4, 273, Jr.) - Dissly, like Lindquist, made the switch to tight end this spring. The Montana product was playing on the defensive line the last two seasons, but made the move in order to get on the field and make an impact. He just might do it too if Ajamu can’t go. Dissly will make his biggest moves as a blocker at the end of the line given his disposition for creating havoc along the line of scrimmage, but he can catch the ball too.
Derek Hunter (6-2, 227, RJr.)* - Walk-on who didn’t do a ton this spring.
Drew Sample (6-5, 260, RSo.) - The former Newport star had a great spring and in my opinion established himself as the clear number two tight end behind Darrell Daniels. At least it looked that way with the number of reps he took with the twos during most of the scrimmaging that we saw. Drew should be able to do double damage as a blocker and pass catcher.
Michael Neal (6-4, 237, RFr.) - Neal is still a very young and raw player who is just finding his way. He physically passes the look test big time, but has to continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger to be the next guy in line to follow the path set by Perkins and Daniels as that quicker pass catcher that plays more outside than along the line. Neal’s time is coming, but it most likely won’t come this fall.
Where does the Tight Ends group stand heading into the summer?
Ajamu being banged up is the one sore spot in a group that really did some very good things this spring. Four of the tight ends made catches during the Spring Event, and it would be great if they had three or four of their tight ends catch passes in every game this fall. They need that kind of versatility and production to help the quarterbacks out.
Daniels looked solid, Sample the same: Lindquist and Dissly splashed at times but they’ll need to tighten up the consistency factor in order to be counted on as regular contributors. That’s what the summer and the fall will be for them. For Lindquist it’ll be more about mechanics, whereas for Dissly it’ll be about mastering the other side of the playbook and getting himself in the kind of shape he needs to be in to run routes all day long.
Those four should be the main weapons for Jonathan Smith as he puts together his game plan for the fall. And really, four tight ends should be enough.