A way-too-early position preview series; included are scholarship and verbally committed Class of 2013 players, while run-on players have been left out of the previews.
Outlook: Well this is an easy one to write. In the Paterno era, the tight ends were underused and undervalued, for the most part. Sure, there was a Kyle Brady every now and then, but on a yearly basis, the tight ends were essentially sixth and seventh linemen. That all changed in January 2012, when Bill O'Brien was hired as the new head coach. Bringing an offense from New England that saw Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski become household names, O'Brien turned a receiver-heavy pass offense into one that spread the ball around to many different bodies (in fact, 15 different receivers caught a pass in 2012).
Two seniors top the list above, but the two sophomores are the better tight ends on the roster and should be opening day starters. That being said, O'Brien and John Strollo, much like their defensive line counterpart, like to rotate a number of different players through the position, which could see as many as three different tight ends on the field at any given time.
Carter was the top tight end target last season, hauling in 36 passes for over 450 yards and two touchdowns, despite only playing in 9 games. James was technically third on the productivity chart, in terms of receptions, but had the highest yards-per-catch number, adding five touchdowns to his 276 receiving yards.
Lehman was another top target of Matt McGloin, and should see plenty of action in the rotation, but will likely be remembered for the most infamous play in 2012. Gilliam only caught a few passes, and was used more in blocking schemes as the "Y" tight end.
The addition of Wilkerson adds some depth to an already stocked position, and ensures that Breneman, coming off a knee injury that kept him out of action his entire senior season, will see a redshirt in 2013. With Lehman and Gilliam gone after the season, though, Breneman will see plenty of action in 2014.
Projected 2013 Depth Chart:
|TE "Y"||TE "F"|
Names to Watch: Once again, the position is pretty stocked after the end of the season, with Gilliam and Lehman moving on and leaving four talented tight ends behind them. And like the other skill positions, scholarships will be limited in 2014 due to the sanctions. But, there are a couple names on the staff's radar in 2014: Moral Stephens (Taylor County HS (Perry, FL)), Nic Weishar (Marist HS (Chicago, IL)).
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