First things first. Congratulations to Doug Gillett of Hey Jenny Slater for winning the CFBA for Funniest Blog. As usual, Doug is handling the honor with unmatched grace and aplomb. Great job, Doug!
Now, on to business. You've certainly heard the news that sophomore tight end NaDerris Ward is looking to transfer out to the West Coast to be closer to his ailing grandmother. We here at DawgSports wish NaDerris, and his grandmother, only the best. It's a tough decision I'm sure, but one which I doubt he'll ever regret. Some things in life are just a heckuva lot more important than depth charts.
But one aspect of Ward's transfer that cannot really be overlooked is its effect on our incredible shrinking tight end rotation. We now have a total of three scholarship tight ends on the roster for 2008: Tripp Chandler, Bruce Figgins, and Aron White.
Chandler is the clear starter. After a rocky start to 2007, Chandler came on strong to finish the season with 21 receptions for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns. Figgins is probably the best blocker in the group, and proved to be something of a receiving threat in the redzone with 2 touchdown receptions.
But I think the guy out of this group who bears watching this spring is without a doubt redshirt freshman Aron White. At 228 pounds, he still has to prove he's more than a big wide receiver. Everybody knows he can catch the ball. And he runs with it as well as any UGA tight end in recent memory. If White is able to consistently block, so that he becomes more than a situation tight end, he has the potential to be a solid weapon in Mike Bobo's offense.
As much as I like Tripp Chandler, he has yet to show me any Randy McMichael moves with the ball. White has a similar build, and is probably about the size McMichael was when he played between the hedges. He also may be our best chance to use the tight end as a legitimate downfield threat in the passing game. If we're going to put serious pressure on defenses this season, we're going to have to have a tight end who can make them pay for playing man coverage with the linebackers. White is the guy most likely to do that, in my estimation.
I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the players to look for during Spring Practice. Until then . . .