With More Emphasis on the Pass, the Tight End Position Could See A New Role in 2020
The tight end position was one that was highly valued under former head coach Steve Addazio. It was a position that was vital to BC's physical running game, basically as an extra offensive linemane. While they also played a prominent role in the throw game as well, springing loose in the play action. It was so crucial on offense that in past two years the tight end position has accounted for eighteen touchdowns through the air. What will 2020 look like for this position under new head coach Jeff Hafley? Let's take a look at the tight ends heading into spring practice.
Returning Players: Hunter Long (Jr.), Danny Dalton (Gr.), Joey Luchetti (So.), Ray Marten (Gr.), Drew McQuarrie (Jr.), Spencer Witter (R-Fr.), Tito Pasqualoni (R-So.), Brendan Smith (R-So.)
Newcomers: Charlie Gordinier- Fr., Hans Lillis - Fr.
Departures: Chris Garrison, Korab Idrizi and Jake Burt (graduation), Isaiah Miranda (transfer)
Expectations: With a change in offensive philosophy the tight end position most likely will be utilized in a completely different fashion. Of course they will be needed for run and pass protection, that is something that will never change. However, just like the wide receivers they may be asked to be more downfield threats in the passing game. With a tight end like Hunter Long, who has shown a propensity as a receiver this should be exciting to watch if they can get him the ball more often. Too often in the past he has been forced to primarily block, which wastes his ability to catch and run with the ball.
The tight end is a position that not only lost a head coach that put a lot of emphasis on their play, but they lost three valuable contributors as well. With Burt, Idrizi and Garrison all graduating, the Eagles are going to need to fill in their depth chart with players that haven't been utilized often.
Key Position Battle: Tight End 2, Backup tight end. Depending on the packages that BC uses, it shouldn't be uncommon for the Eagles to use two tight ends. Of course Long will be the primary tight end, but who else will they use? Ray Marten is a good blocker, but has a skill set that is more reminiscent of a fullback than a tight end. Danny Dalton, who transferred to BC from Penn State last off season, saw the field but was hurt for most of the year. Luchetti has bounced around between tight end and defensive end, while the remainder of the depth chart hasn't seen the field in a substantial manner.
Areas To Improve: Drops/Penalties. Unfortunately there are not statistics to break down penalties, or drops that I could find for this article. However, just eyeballing the team from last year, these are two areas that the tight ends made mistakes in.
Impact Player: Hunter Long. Led the Eagles in yards receiving in 2019 with 509. Was excellent in the play action game, with above average hands. It will be exciting to see what he can do in an offense that throws the ball more.
Player To Step Up: Danny Dalton. The local product appeared in eight games for the Eagles in 2019. Did not register a reception, and only has three reception in his career (all with Penn State). Is his ceiling just a blocking tight end, or could he be a pass catcher as well. This is his final year of eligibility, can he break the two deep this year?