Tight end blocking drill
By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Here is my tight ends preview, which is accompanied by a story in tomorrow’s paper:
87 Gabe Linehan, 6-4, 238, R-Sr.
86 Kyle Sosnowski, 6-2, 238, R-Jr. (out for the year, knee)
89 Connor Peters, 6-4, 250, Jr.
84 Jake Hardee, 6-3, 241, R-So.
85 Holden Huff, 6-5, 236, R-So.
93 Brennyn Dunn, 6-3, 220, R-Fr.
91 Jackson Reed, 6-4, 226, R-Fr.
98 Alec Dhaenens, 6-3, 232, Fr.
88 Jake Roh, 6-2, 210, Fr.
Projected depth chart
Tight end: Linehan, Huff, Peters, Hardee
Storyline: The Broncos’ recent run of bad luck at tight end continued before this season even started with the loss of Sosnowski to a knee injury. That leaves the depth questionable, with Hardee (a walk-on from Bishop Kelly High) and possibly a true freshman (most likely Roh) needing to fill the gaps. Adding to this concern: Linehan missed nearly all of last season with a hamstring injury and Huff was out for Sunday’s scrimmage. Those two need to stay healthy.
Keys to success: Since Derek Schouman left after the 2006 season, no tight end has reached the status of all-around weapon. Linehan was on that path before his injury. If he can dominate with his blocking, he’ll boost the run game and be even more difficult to deal with in the pass game. Otherwise, it’s another season of mixing and matching.
Reason for concern: The Broncos only have five scholarship tight ends available this season and at least one of them — likely Dhaenens — is expected to redshirt. Roh and Dhaenens were a nice start, but it’s a position that still needs to be restocked through recruiting. The Broncos have two 2014 commits already — Dimitri Flowers of San Antonio and Drew Sample of Newport, Wash.
Star player: Linehan made 23 catches for 252 yards and five touchdowns in 2011 — a season that was supposed to be the beginning of a three-year run as one of the offense’s best players. The injury derailed him for about 10 months, but he returned to have an outstanding fall camp and is highly motivated for his senior year. “It’s that one last shot,” he said. “Everything has kind of come to this. It’s kind of the pinnacle of your career. I’m ready to do as much as I can for the team and make sure I’m satisfied with myself and how I’ve helped the team.” Holden Huff also could have a big year. He has bulked up since his strong freshman season.
Breakout performer: Watch out for Peters, who has quickly become one of the team’s strongest players since arriving in January 2012. He isn’t known for his receiving ability, but he was the only tight end without a drop in camp. “Last year you saw bits and pieces of him,” tight ends coach Scott Huff said. “He was kind of a spot guy. This year, we’re seeing he’s making progress. … Hopefully we can get some more production out of him.”
Newcomer to watch: Coaches had their eye on Roh even before camp started as a player they thought might need to contribute this year. He isn’t big — like Holden Huff last year — but he has looked like a capable receiver in practice. He also has a strong understanding of the expectations at this level after watching his brother play at Michigan.
— Tight ends caught 24 passes last year — 17 by Huff, three by Dan Paul, two by Hayden Plinke, one by Linehan and one by Chandler Koch. That’s the worst number since Chris Petersen arrived in 2001. Four of the six previous years, the Broncos had a single tight end make at least 24 catches.
— Scott Huff said he’d like to have five tight ends in the rotation for game planning: “Depth is going to be an issue. We’ve got to continue to develop guys.”
— Linehan: “We are good athletes who are even smarter than how good we are and we’re going to be able to run this offense and do what we need to do.”
— Scott Huff on Hardee: “He can kind of go everywhere. He works extremely hard. If I had to say who the hardest-working guy in our group is, I’d say it’s Jake Hardee. He does a great job of getting along with the team. He’s kind of a crowd favorite if you will amongst the players on our team. We’re expecting good things from him this year.”
— Hardee: “Getting my feet wet (last year) helped me with a little confidence going into spring ball and to now. Hopefully I can make some plays this year.”
A few other stories you might want to check out: