Becoming Technically Sound

With the 2003 football season rapidly approaching, it is bringing along with it a new tight end coach as well as a new sense of pride among the Western Michigan University Broncos tight ends. Former Broncos standout quarterback Tony Kimbrough is back at his Alma Mater as the new tight ends coach and with him he brings back a strong work ethic based on technique and fundamentals.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, I tell you that. To be able to come back to my Alma Mater, it's the best feeling in the world," Kimbrough told Broncos Illustrated. Kimbrough also said, "one of the biggest things is just be consistent. You have to be consistent week in and week out, day in and day out. Running routes properly. Doing the proper techniques. Just fundamentals that's all, I'm big on fundamentals. As a player I was big on fundamentals, and as a coach I'm the same way. I expect them, when that play is called, to execute that play to the best of their ability and that all stems from technique and fundamentals."

With Mobolaji Afariogun graduating and waiting to hopefully get drafted by a NFL team this weekend, senior Anthony Kiner and redshirt sophomore Tony Scheffler will lead this young group of tight ends. Last season Kiner caught 8 passes for 57 yards and one touchdown, while Scheffler caught 6 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. Scheffler also returned 7 kickoffs for 100 yards.

At 6'5" and 280 pounds, Kiner will be used primarily as a blocking tight end. Coach Kimbrough sees Kiner as "a bruiser, big body, catch everything, does everything well," tight end. When it comes to hands, both Kiner and Kimbrough spoke highly of Scheffler. When asked who had the best hands, Kiner told us, ""Scheffler by far. I'm not even going to try that one. I might be the second best, but Scheffler by far, he might be the best on the team." Kimbrough said, "Tony Scheffler that's a receiver that can get downfield."

It's clear to the Broncos who the leaders of this tightly knit group of tight ends are. With being the only one's with any real game experience, Kiner and Scheffler are the one's the rest of the guys are looking up too. With such a young group of tight ends, the Broncos moved redshirt junior Erik Oleson from linebacker to tight end during the off-season. Oleson had a decent spring and will provide some needed depth at tight end. "We've got a lot of new guys; Oleson is new. A lot of the young guys on the squad pretty much all just following Kiner's footsteps," Scheffler told Broncos Illustrated.

Coach Kimbrough added, "you got Erik Oleson that we moved over from linebacker that is really starting to catch on at tight end." Along with Oleson, there are just two others returning this season, redshirt sophomore Ross Farren and redshirt freshman Michael Kempinski. During the 2002-2003 recruiting season, the Broncos went out and signed Tyson DeVree. DeVree was a standout at Hudsonville High School in Hudsonville, Michigan last season where he caught 53 passes for 834 yards and 5 touchdowns.

One of the things that Coach Kimbrough noticed from watching tapes from last season was the blocking by his tight ends. "The biggest thing from last year was the blocking aspect of it and it's tough when you're on the backside of a run play that's going away from you. You're responsible to cut-off the backside end. Last year they struggled with it. Right now I think we are far ahead of that place where we were last year. If anything we've improved on is our cut-off blocks right now."

Scheffler agreed with what Coach Kimbrough had said, "a lot of the blocking responsibilities I think. Other than Kiner we don't have a lot of real game experience because we're all young. I think mainly like the backside of our cut-off blocks. Mainly a lot of the blocking stuff because a lot of the package stuff we have we have down. So a lot of the blocking actually."

As this year's group of tight ends get down their blocking assignments and grow stronger each day, Bronco fans can expect some good things from them just as they have grown used to guys like Afariogun and Jake Moreland. With the ultimate prize being what Kiner and Scheffler want to bring back to Kalamazoo, the MAC Championship. One thing is for certain, should the Broncos win the MAC West Division, the MAC Championship will be held in Kalamazoo on December 4th.

Broncos Illustrated Top Stories