Saturday, August 27, 2011

Position Breakdown 2011: Tight Ends

Returning Lettermen: Ryan Skidmore, Tapa Taumopeau, Marcel Jensen, Ryan Boschma, Michael Butler
Newcomers: None
Lost: Vince Pascoe

Ryan Skidmore: Better Late Than Never
Sr, 6-5, 250
Bakersfield (East HS)

He’s had to wait his turn a long time, but as a senior Ryan Skidmore looks like he’ll finally get significant playing time. Since the day he signed with Fresno State, Skidmore was considered a big threat in the passing game, with the speed and deep threat ability more closely resembling a wideout. But his blocking was lacking, and in a system like Fresno State’s where blocking is the most critical piece of a tight end’s arsenal, that left Skidmore buried on the depth chart. His only two career catches both came against wisconsin as a redshirt freshman. Skidmore showed up to fall camp with added bulk, and while the extra pounds might slow him a bit, it should help him become the blocker the Bulldogs need and stay on the field longer. The other clue that Skidmore might have a vastly increased role is the fondness new quarterback Derek Carr has for him. Carr likes having a tight end he can rely on in the passing game, and the two have seemed to connect in camp each of the past three years.

Marcel Jensen: Third Position's the Charm
So, 6-6, 255
Fairfield (Rodriguez HS)

Marcel Jensen is easily the most intriguing prospect at the tight end position. Jensen was recruited as a development project simply because Pat Hill was enamored with his size, long arms and big hands. He was brought in as a defensive end before a devastating injury curtailed him for the better part of two years. Jensen moved to the offensive line as he lost speed and mobility from the injury, but finally looks like he recovered and has been working as a tight end the past year. He’s got a massive body for a tight end, and presents a major challenge for linebackers or defensive backs in coverage. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in height and reach. And though he’s still learning the position, he flashed evidence of good hands with some nice catches in camp. The comforting thing about Jensen is he’s had work on the offensive line, and in a year the Bulldogs’ line is an unknown, Jensen can come in for packages and act essentially as a sixth lineman. Blocking isn’t a concern with him.

Ryan Boschma: Da Boschma
So, 6-4, 240
Bakersfield (Bakersfield Christian HS)

How impressive was Ryan Boschma’s progress last season? The guy comes into camp as a virtually unknown walk-on wearing No. 85, which was previously worn by one of the school’s best tight ends of all-time Bear Pascoe (Giants). Not only does Boschma play as a freshman, he even earned a start in midseason. Though he’s listed at 240 pounds, about 20 pounds less than Pascoe, Boschma looks quite similar to him in stature on the field. But he’s far from proving he can be a receiving threat. With no catches last season, Boschma’s blocking is his strength and should again earn him playing time. He sat out much of fall camp with an injury after a scuffle with a teammate and definitely lost valuable reps. But he’s showed he can be a quick learner.

Michael Butler: Working to Emerge from the Crowd
Jr, 6-2, 250
Fresno (Sunnyside HS)

Local product Michael Butler is right in the mix, battling with all the rest of ‘em for playing time. The tight end position, more than other other, has parity. And until someone steps up and separates himself from the rest of the pack, the depth chart will vary. Butler is more proven as a blocker right now, but made one of the most memorable plays of fall camp during the first scrimmage when he caught a pass from Derek Carr, turned around without knowing a defender was fast approaching and leveled him, strictly off momentum. Butler has the versatility to line up at the H-back position as well. And there’s no denying he’s the ultimate team player with his pro-Fresno State attitude and ability to get others around him excited about Bulldog Football.

Tapa Taumopeau: Wishing a Speedy Recovery
Jr, 6-3, 235
Euless, TX (Trinity HS)

By far the Bulldogs’ most experienced tight end, Tapa Taumopeau was lost for the season to injury early in fall camp. Taumopeau had 7 catches for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns last season, lining up as both an H-back and on the line of scrimmage. His presence would have given the ‘Dogs at least one tight end with significant experience, but now they’ll have to quickly find a replacement.

Position Rating:

1 comment:

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