Position coach: Sean Beckton
The tight ends are a group that were exceptionally young in 2018. Even in 2019, there isn’t a senior on the roster. They were not heavily involved in the passing game early in the season, but there seemed to be a concerted effort by the coaching staff to get them more involved in the later games. We were told that tight ends would be a prominent feature in the Frost-fense, so either this group didn’t have the goods or their youth combined with adjustment to a new system slowed the learning process.
I’m going to be an optimist and say it was the latter. There’s no burners in this group, but there is height. At the very least, they should provide a red zone threat for this offense (in addition to their un-glamorous duties in blocking.
One reason given for the lack of involvement in the passing game was that the tight ends didn’t get off the line of scrimmage very well according to Coach Beckton:
“Last year we were held up way too much at the line of scrimmage, at the second level and working around because we were unsure. That’s development and understanding what’s going on a little bit more.”
In short. All of the 2018 receptions and yards return. Four Husker tight ends recorded at least one reception last season.
- Junior Jack Stoll snagged 21 of them for 245 yards (11.7 yards/reception) and three touchdowns. Stoll played in all 12 games and was the starter for all of them. Stoll was a tenacious and physical blocker for Nebraska as well as being the primary receiving threat from that position.
- Sophomore Kurt Rafdal played in all 12 games and hauled in four receptions for 67 yards.
- Sophomore Austin Allen played in all 12 games and came down with two receptions for 54 yards.
- Redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone played in three games and snagged one reception for eight yards.
Rutgers transfer (that phrase inspires a lot of confidence, doesn’t it?) Travis Vokolek joined the Huskers during the offseason. He caught 16 passes for 184 yards for the Scarlet Knights in 2018. He accounted for two touchdowns (WHICH WAS 40% OF ALL OF RUTGERS PASSING TOUCHDOWNS IN 2018!!) He is likely to have to sit out the 2019 season (unless the NCAA does one of their weird, arbitrary waivers which they seem to be more inclined to do of late). He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Nebraska also added two in-state TEs in John Goodwin (Lincoln; walk-on) and Chris Hickman (Omaha; scholarship). Hickman is currently listed at 215 lbs and 6-6, so I expect he’s being turned over to Zach Duval and the nutrition staff to add some bulk before he gets much time on the field. He might have more speed than other TEs on the roster (a guess based on some comments in his recruiting profiles), so it will be interesting to see if he maintains that when adding significant weight.
Projected Depth Chart
I’m not sure much has changed from 2018. I expect Stoll to be TE1. Katerian Legrone got a lot of shoutouts from the coaching staff this spring so he may have moved up the ranks. Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal are both very tall (6’8” and 6’7” respectively) and are tantalizing targets for Adrian Martinez. Whomever of those three that provides the best combo of blocking and can step up to provide some dynamic receiving in the pass game is likely to get the nod behind Stoll. I expect to see all four of these players a fair bit as the coaching staff has been talking about building depth to rotate players and wear down defenses (as well as provide insurance in case of injuries).
Nebraska Tight Ends 2019
|11||Austin Allen||TE||6-8||250||So.||Aurora, Neb. (Aurora)|
|46||John Goodwin||TE||6-2||255||Fr.||Lincoln, Neb. (Lincoln High)|
|87||Chris Hickman||TE||6-6||215||Fr.||Omaha, Neb. (Burke)|
|48||Bryson Krull||TE||6-3||250||RFr.||North Platte, Neb. (North Platte)|
|12||Katerian LeGrone||TE||6-3||245||RFr.||Atlanta, Ga. (The B.E.S.T. Academy)|
|40||Brian Perez||TE||6-3||265||Jr.||Hartley, Iowa (Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn)|
|82||Kurt Rafdal||TE||6-7||245||So.||Carmel, Ind. (Carmel)|
|86||Jack Stoll||TE||6-4||260||Jr.||Lone Tree, Colo. (Regis Jesuit)|
|83||Travis Vokolek||TE||6-6||250||Jr.||Springfield, Mo. (Rutgers) (Kickapoo)|