We’ll continue the position reviews with a spot that should be much improved this season — tight end.
The Huskies got just six catches out of the tight end spot all of 2010, surely one of the lowest totals in UW history (or at least in the modern era).
Judging by what we saw in the spring, that could be matched in one game this year as UW’s tight end spot will receive a massive makeover thanks to the addition of true freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins and redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson and Evan Hudson.
Those three ended the spring 1-2-3 on the depth chart, which read as such:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 6-6, 250, Fr., OR/
Michael Hartvigson, 6-6, 246, RFr.
Evan Hudson, 6-6, 251, RFr.
Marlion Barnett, 6-2, 215, So.
Anybody reading this I’m assuming followed the happenings of the spring, during which one of the constant highlights was the play of Seferian-Jenkins and Hartvigson (and even Hudson). Especially early on, they often took turns serving as one of the offensive stars of the day with their play, particularly in the passing game.
The excitement in seeing the tight end again in the passing game after a year of non-existance should be tempered somewhat by the realization that each of the top three TEs are freshmen —- there is bound to be a learning curve for each, some inconsistency along the way, especially in blocking, always the harder task to pick up immediately.
But the potential at the position is obviously vast and UW should again have a legitimate TE threat to attack the middle of the field and provide the quarterbacks with an avenue for safer, high-percentage passes.
Seferian-Jenkins and Hartvigson — who might have been the starter by the end of last year had he not suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to redshirt — are listed as either/or on the depth chart, and it probably doesn’t matter much who ends up starting as each seems destined to play a lot in 2011, either rotating or together as UW’s offense has lots of room for two tight-end sets. Hudson, a walk-on, could also factor in, especially blocking, the area where he could provide the most help this season. Barnett, who saw some sporadic playing time a year ago, may find it harder to get on the field this season. But he’s still young, and depth is always needed, and his receiving abilities could be incorporated in some packages.
Should Seferian-Jenkins and Hartvigson translate the potential evident this spring to the field, they should help revive UW’s former reputation for developing tight ends — again, we should probably wait to see it on the field before proclaiming it done.
But their presence has led to some questions about the best seasons for tight ends in UW history.
So here is a list of the top 10 tight end receiving seasons in UW history:
1, Jerramy Stevens (2000), 48 receptions.
2, (tie) Kevin Ware (2002) and David Bayle (1980), 42.
4, Bill Ames (1989), 39.
5, Dave Williams (1965), 38.
6, Rod Jones (1985), 36.
7, (tie) Mark Bruener (1994) and Rod Jones (1986), 34.
9, (tie) Mark Bruener (1993), Aaron Pierce (1991) and John Brady (1972), 30.
Interestingly, no other TE in 2000 caught a pass, so that may be the most receptions for the position in school history and all by one player (in doing quick research, the total for the spot for the 2002, 1980 and 1989 seasons do not top Stevens’ total for 2000).
UW has had some pretty good tandems at this spot through the years, and the top may be 1991, when Pierce was a senior and caught the 30 passes shown above while Bruener caught another six as a true freshman. Both went on to long NFL careers, Pierce taken in the third round by the Giants in 1992 and Bruener in the first round by the Steelers in 1995.
Ware and Stevens, while they overlapped for a couple of years, never really were a true combo, as Ware played sparingly in 1999 and 2000 and then Stevens was injured for most of 2001 before leaving early for the NFL.
UW hasn’t gotten much production since then, in terms of receiving, other than Kavario Middleton’s 25 catches in 2009. All indications are that slump should end this season.