Choosing a Husky Starting Lineup: No. 2 TE Often Better than People Think

The selection for Cade Otton's running mate at tight end might surprise some fans, but he's been a starter before.
Author:
Publish date:

The University of Washington football team breaks the huddle, players scurry around in a harried and choreographed manner, and everyone finally drops into some sort of  formation.

A tight end lines up on each side; one usually parallel to the offensive line, the other a step back. 

Most teams prefer one tight end. The Huskies require two.

A question that persists: Which one is better?

Are they treated like a tailback and a fullback, where one gets the glory and the other the grunt work?

At the UW, the tight ends appear to be on equal footing — he has to do it all. The more the better, because the NFL awaits you.

Hunter Bryant was thought to be a new-age tight end for the Huskies, a big man with a wide-receiver body, certainly more of a pro prospect than Will Dissly, Drew Sample and even the emerging Cade Otton, guys who all played for the UW at the same time.

Dissly, while battling a series of unfortunate injuries, became NFL star quality once he joined the Seattle Seahawks as a fourth-round pick. He has shown he can block and catch.

Sample, limited by health setbacks as a rookie, was a second-round draftee for the Cincinnati Bengals. Because he can block and catch. 

Otton might be be better than all of them. He can really block and catch at a high level.

Bryant?

The highly regarded and gifted one, when healthy, has shown he can catch with the best of them, but his blocking abilities remain suspect.

This past April, even as a second-team AP All-American and a first-team All-Pac-12 tight end, he went undrafted.

Bryant is considered a dreaded tweener, someone too big to be an NFL wide receiver but not quite physical enough to be a highly paid pro tight end. 

There's still hope for him, but he's got to start knocking people down.

The moral to this story is don't sleep on the Huskies' supposed No. 2 tight end. 

He might be the better one.

Which leads us to our seventh selection in choosing a Husky starting lineup.

The second tight end.

It might not be who you thought it would be.

Second TE candidates: Jacob Kizer, 6-5, 258, senior; Devin Culp, 6-3, 255, sophomore;  Jack Westover, 6-3, 243, sophomore; Mason West, 6-3, 242, freshman; Mark Redman, 6-6, 239, freshman.

TE starting experience: Cade Otton has 24 starts; Kizer has 3 starts; Westover has 1 start in a WR slot position.

Our selection: Kizer. Remember him? The former grayshirt has battled injuries much of his football career before finally settling in and playing the final eight games of the UW's 2019 season. He's got a history of back ailments, nothing to dismiss. However, Kizer comes into his final season healthy once more, representing the Huskies' largest tight end in terms of weight and tied with Cade Otton for the most height. He's a physical player, which is a prerequisite for the job. He has just three career catches, the last one coming in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game against Utah, but that's something he can build on. Oh yeah, he started three games at tight end as a true freshman against Utah, in the Apple Cup against WSU and in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State, so he's handled huge responsibility before. If he can remember back that far. 

Other options: To many, Culp might seem like a more logical choice as the Huskies' second tight end. He's a player of the future. He's overly athletic for a lineman type, similar to the departed Bryant. However, in his 2019 cameo appearances as a redshirt freshman, of which he made 12, he seemed a little unpolished at times, dropping a crucial pass in one game. In fact, he doesn't have a career catch yet. His time as a starter will come, just not now. Westover, an opportunistic walk-on playing tight end and lining as a quasi fullback as a redshirt freshman, showed himself to be player worthy of a scholarship if not a lot more minutes. He caught a touchdown pass against Arizona. Eventually, look for the Huskies to pay him and start him. The freshmen, West and Redman, have nice credentials, but probably not the mandatory strength yet. Welcome to the weight room. 

Greatest second Husky TE: Ernie Conwell. He played most of his UW career in Mark Bruener's shadow before becoming the No. 1 guy as a Husky senior. He blossomed into an 11-year NFL player in St. Louis and New Orleans. He caught 203 passes for 2,188 yards and 15 touchdowns as a pro. He won a Super Bowl. He earned an All-Pro selection. 

Other legendary UW TEs: Jeremy Stevens, a first-round NFL draft pick, 28th overall, for the Seattle Seahawks in 2002; Mark Bruener, a first-round pick, 27th overall, for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995; Aaron Pierce, starter for 1991 national championship team; and Lee Folkins, starter for 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowl teams;

The UW Starting Lineup:

Left tackle — Victor Curne

Left guard — Ulumoo Ale

Center — Luke Wattenberg

Right guard — Corey Luciano

Right tackle — Henry Bainivalu

Tight end — Cade Otton

Tight end — Jacob Kizer

Wide receiver

Wide receiver

Running back

Quarterback

Kicker

Punter

Outside linebacker

Defensive tackle

Defensive tackle

Outside linebacker

Inside linebacker

Inside linebacker

Cornerback

Cornerback

Nickel back

Strong safety

Free safety

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Husky Maven. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.