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If this adequately describes how you feel regarding Tim Beck's usage of tight ends over the past couple of seasons, you are not alone.
Starters/Experienced Players Returning:
Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton, Trey Foster
Jared Blum, Tyler Hoppes, Connor Ketter, Luke McNitt, Bryan Reimers, David Sutton
11 tight ends graced last year's Nebraska football roster, not a single one of them a senior. Three of them, Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton, and Trey Foster, played a fair number of games and between them caught a total of 10 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. That's 10 receptions out of 190 total completions, 145 yards out of 2,757 in the air, and three touchdowns out of 24 total in passing.
If you felt like the tight end position had disappeared, yeah, well, it had.
That will change this season under new head coach Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf. As I stated in the offensive preview, we really have no idea what the offense will look like, but you can be assured that you're going to see more involvement with the tight ends, or more "H-back", dependent upon how many players we call tight ends are lined up in the backfield. (You don't know what a "H-back" is? Well, imagine how confused defenses will be!)
At the time of this writing, there are 10 tight ends on Nebraska's roster. Technically that means the offense could line up with all our tight ends and a quarterback and run Stanford's offense. (It's a joke. You know Riley would only run up to five tight ends at once, right?)
Carter is the most likely candidate to be the top tight end. He played in nine games last year, starting eight. He missed four games in the middle of the season with a foot injury, and that injury gave Cotton the chance to get on the field more often. Foster got the start against Northwestern and played in nine games.
Tavita Thompson, a grad assistant, is the tight ends coach. This is the same position he held at Oregon State the previous season. You should be wondering why, if the position is so important to Riley, he has a relatively inexperienced grad assistant coaching the tight ends. The answer is the same reason we chose to have a separate article previewing the position; depending upon the play(s) being run, a tight end fits with either the offensive line OR the receiving corps. As such, tey will receive coaching from multiple coaches.
The "pro style" offense will require a versatile athlete who is adept at both blocking and pass catching. Their blocking is key in stretch plays, either sealing the edge, or creating a hole off tackle.
Nebraska already has a pretty good set of receivers. Whomever wins the starting tight end position has a chance to be a star.