Tight Ends (By Year)
The converted defensive lineman had one catch for 12 yards during the Spring Preview. Dissly had only four catches for 47 yards and one score last season, and he'll obviously want to improve on those numbers especially with the graduation of Darrell Daniels.
Ajamu had one catch for two yards in the Spring Preview, which ironically matched his 2016 season total for catches. But it was great to see the big man from Shelton roam down the seams this spring, looking like his old self again. To be fair to the senior-to-be, he just wasn't the same last year coming back from the knee injury suffered pre-game two years ago at USC. But now he seems back on track and could really help the Huskies in the pass game. We already know he's a beast as a blocking end.
Hunter had one catch for six yards in the Spring Preview. The senior-to-be and walk-on transfer from Georgetown showed up a few times during spring, no doubt the beneficiary of some extra turns due to Michael Neal's absence.
Sample led the tight ends with two catches for 25 yards during the Spring Preview, including a long of 19. That effort should be considered foreshadowing, as the junior-to-be is now the undisputed leader of the tight end group. He had nine catches for 106 yards last year but I would not be surprised if he doubles those numbers in 2017. Daniels had 17 catches in 2016, so that should be the floor for Sample's catch total this coming fall.
Neal, the one brought in to be the next Joshua Perkins-style hybrid tight end, has been plagued with injury ever since he got to campus, so he didn't play this spring. That's not a good sign for a guy that should be at the point where he needs to be competing for playing time. It's too bad too, because he had gained 10 pounds in the off-season and looked a beast.
The true freshman from Oregon initially grayshirted while he recovered from back surgery, but was not limited at all this spring when it came to showing what he could do. He's very much a Drew Sample-type player in waiting, an in-line traditional blocking end that also has nice hands and can run. Now all he needs to do is mature physically and learn the system. His time should be a year down the road, but if they need a fourth tight end his name will definitely be in the mix.
Where does the tight end group stand heading into the summer?
Other than getting Michael Neal healthy, the tight end group is in great shape heading into the summer workout period. They have three legitimate blocking tight ends in Sample, Dissly and Ajamu, and two that have shown they can go out and catch a pass or two.
Getting Ajamu even healthier and back to what he was pre-injury is essential. He's pretty much there, now all that needs to come with him is his confidence.
The Huskies are getting a couple of very interesting prospects in Cade Otton and Hunter Bryant this summer, and they could help sooner, rather than later. Especially Bryant, who seemingly was at every spring practice, soaking it all in and taking as many mental reps as made sense. Physically he's already there, so that won't be a problem. It's just a matter of mastering the playbook and getting ready to handle the speed of the game.
It's a good thing Bryant has three upperclassmen in take him under their wing this summer and get him prepared.
Tight End Depth Chart
88 Drew Sample (6-5, 259, Jr.)
98 Will Dissly (6-4, 269, Sr.)
85 David Ajamu (6-5, 251, Sr.)
86 Jacob Kizer (6-4, 241, Fr.)
84 Michael Neal (6-4, 246, So.) (INJ)
94 Derek Hunter (6-2, 235, Sr.)*
* = walk-on