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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

February 19, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Breaking down the tight ends

One of you asked me earlier today if I was going to begin offering breakdowns of the Huskies by position.
I actually already started those about 10 days ago with a look at the quarterbacks. There seemed to be enough going on in the interim that I got away from the position overviews for a little while. But I’ll return today with a look the tight ends
RETURNING SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS: 2 — Kavario Middleton, So,; Chris Izbicki, RS-Soph.
RETURNING WALK-ONRomeo Savant, Soph.; Marek Domanski, Soph.
INCOMING TRANSFERDorson Boyce, Jr.
INCOMING FRESHMENMarlion Barnett; Kimo Makaula.
PLAYERS LOSTMichael Gottlieb, Walt Winter.
RETURNING STARTERS — None (Middleton did officially start two games last year but that wouldn’t designate him as a returning starter by most standards).
LOOK AHEAD — This will be one of the more intriguing positions to watch this spring. Steve Sarkisian’s offenses at USC put a heavy emphasis on using the tight end — Fred Davis caught 62 passes and won the Mackey Award in Sarkisian’s offense in 2007.
That’s got to be comforting knowledge for Middleton, whose freshman season was hampered by injuries last season but showed enough to indicate he should be UW’s next great tight end. The former staff said flat-out that Middleton was one guy who needed to get in the weight room and hone his body, something he’s probably even more motivated to do now with a new regime. A year of maturity alone should do wonders for his game.
Izbicki never got on the field after running into minor off-season legal trouble. Coaches also indicated he wasn’t quite to the level as those who did get on the field in terms of his overall play. But after a redshirt season and a year on the bench, and now with a new staff giving everyone a clean slate, this figures to be a key time for Izbicki to establish a role for himself on this team. This figures to be a real key spring for him.
The 6-2, 246-pound Boyce is the one JC player the Huskies signed who will be here for the spring. He’s regarded as more likely to make his initial impact as a blocker, which might make him a good pairing with Middleton, whose strength right now is as a receiver..
The former staff regarded Savant as a promising walk-on who had a legitimate chance of getting on the field down the road. We’ll begin to see this spring if the new staff thinks the same.
The 6-2, 210-pound Barnett will need to bulk up to be an every-down tight end. But Sarkisian said he envisions a role for him as more of a TE/slot receiver and not necessarily a conventional tight end called on to block all the time. Some recruiting analysts wonder, however, if Barnett won’t end up as a rush end/OLB-type player instead, so we’ll see where he ends up long term.
Makaula was listed as a TE/athlete by UW on signing day but Sarkisian said he “could play fullback, tight end, possibly defensive end. … He’s a football junkie and a well-equipped athlete who can do a lot of different things.” So it’s obviously uncertain where his long-term future rests, as well.
Where Barnett and Makaula end up will help determine how many tight ends the Huskies will need in the future. But given how much emphasis Sarkisian placed on the position in his USC days, it seems likely the Huskies will go after another one or two this year, as well.
NEXT — Tailbacks.

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