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Looking Ahead to 2012 Husker Football: Tight Ends

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Ah, the tight end. Seemingly for the last thirty years or so, Nebraska usually has had a pretty good tight end. Think Junior Miller or Johnny Mitchell, for example. But what about guys like Matt Herian, Tracey Wistrom, Jamie Williams all were guys who made plays at key times. Tight ends have always been underappreciated unless you happen to have a pretty good one. If you play fantasy football, you know what I mean. If you get one of the top two or three in the league, you know you've got a distinct advantage. Otherwise, you'd just as soon play another wide receiver.

And that's the key to the tight end. There are certain fundamentals that a tight end has to do, in terms of blocking. But if they can do that, and then go out into a pass pattern, they can become a weapon. And if you forget about them in the passing game, they can really make you pay.

Returning:
Ben Cotton (starter), Sr.; Kyler Reed, Sr.; Jake Long, Jr.;

Incoming:
Sam Cotton, HS Verbal

Jon: I'm surprised at how good a tight end Ben Cotton has become. I was holding his father against him (always skeptical of coaches' kids), but Ben Cotton has developed into a pretty good all-around football player. He earned Big Ten Honorable Mention honors from the coaches and media this past season. Reed wasn't nearly as productive this past season as he was in 2010 with only one touchdown versus eight the previous season.

Mike: Another position of strength. Cotton and Reed both suffered injuries in 2011 which limited them both. Reed played through his, though it was clear he was far from 100%. This spring, Reed needs to work on his blocking so he's on the field more. Both of these guys are good receivers, and Reed is really a deep threat. I just hope they don't try a Mike McNeill experiment with Kyler.

Jon: Long is a fairly serviceable tight end in his own right. The real key here is that Nebraska has three experienced tight ends going into next season. That will leave little room for guys like Robert Barry (6'8", the tallest guy on the team), David Sutton and Eddie Ridder.

Andy: It's nice to see that Ben and Jake Cotton playing well. That bodes well for Sam Cotton who probably starts in 2013 unless one of those names above in Jon's paragraph develops. I'm not holding my breath and we need another tight end in this class.

Mike: Barry is 6'8"? 245 pounds? He's a junior, so it will be interesting to see if he emerges in the spring game. You'd like to see someone like that on the field, as long as you don't use a sundial to time him in the 40.

So what's your expectations for tight ends in 2012?