Celebrating almost as much as the attendees at Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ signing day party (pictured at right in a Steve Ringman photo) were UW fans, hopeful the big guy from Gig Harbor can solve Washington’s tight end woes.
A school long known as “Tight End U.” was mostly left wondering “who’s the tight end?” as the 2010 season progressed.
I’m sure everyone reading this is aware of the struggles of 2010 as Kavario Middleton was kicked off the team in the summer, Chris Izbicki stuggled to take over and then suffered some injuries that helped lead to his decision to leave the team prior to the Holiday Bowl, and the Huskies were left often using lineman Daniel Kanczugowski as a replacement.
UW had just seven catches out of the tight end position last season (for 47 yards), and while there’s no official records on such things, I can’t imagine the Huskies have had less offensive production at that spot in 30 years, if not longer.
But the signing of Seferian-Jenkins — regarded by many as the top tight end prospect in the Class of 2011 and who plans to enroll in time for spring practice — is among the reasons for optimism at the position heading into next season.
First, a look at a projected spring depth chart.
PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Marlion Barnett, 6-2, 215, So.
Michael Hartvigson, 6-6, 246, RFr.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 6-6, 250, Fr.
Marek Domanski, 6-5, 248, Jr.
Evan Hudson, 6-6, 251, RFr.
Please don’t read much into that order listed above. Given that of that group, Barnett is the only one who has caught a pass or seen any real time at the position, I figured it made sense to list him first — basically, I just listed in order of experience given that the spot seems completely wide open entering the spring.
Barnett caught four passes for 31 yards last season and started four games. But at a listed 215, he needs to continue to bulk up to play regularly at a spot where blocking is obviously also a key component.
Hartvigson appeared in the first four games of last season before injuring his shoulder, and is expected to get a medical redshirt. He impressed with both his blocking and receiving in fall camp and if healthy in the spring, figures to immediately emerge as a contender to start.
Of all the players in this class who could have enrolled early, Seferian-Jenkins could be the one that it would help the most — and that will help the Huskies the most. His physical attributes are obvious — from that standpoint, he comes in seemingly ready to play from day one. But obviously there’s a lot more that goes into it, and having the 15 extra practices in the spring should go a long way toward getting him in position to contribute immediately.
Domanski is a walk-on who saw a little action last year (and was one of the stars of the 2010 spring game) and adds depth. Hudson is also a walk-on and also could get into the mix.
It was a common question of fans last season to wonder why UW didn’t use the tight end more. The answer was simply that the Huskies didn’t feel they had the personnel at the spot to do some of the things they would like.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian has made it clear that he’d love to feature the tight end more if he feels he has the players that can do it (remember that he was the offensive coordinator at USC in 2007 when Fred Davis caught 62 passes).
On paper, the Huskies have the makings of a tight end corps that should be much more productive in 2011.