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Assume The Position: Previewing the Georgia Bulldog Tight Ends

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Brian Schottenheimer loves to utilize the tight ends in his pro-style offensive scheme. A cadre of healthy tight ends (what sorcery is this!?) and the guidance of position coach John Lilly promises to boost the production out of this position and augment the rest of the offense. I'm so jacked, I could eat a stick of butter...

Jeb Blazevich - Rising Star
Jeb Blazevich - Rising Star
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

My money is on UGA Tight End Jeb Blazevich becoming an absolute monster in Schottenheimer's scheme - Murf Baldwin, January 9, 2015

GETTING HEALTHY

Consider this:  The last time we actually saw a healthy Jay Rome might have been in the 2012 SEC Championship Game against Alabama.  That is going on 3 years now.  He's been missed.

Rome has been plagued by a chronic toe injury that required surgery at the end of the 2013 season.  During that season, he only caught 9 passes for 99 yards.  Last season, Rome's contribution were roughly the same:  Ten receptions for a mere 59 yards and a single touchdown against South Carolina.  Toe injuries are tough to recover from, but it would appear that Rome will be ready to go barring any setbacks and will certainly add a much-anticipated dimension to Brian Schottenheimer's offense - which heavily involves the tight end.  Want proof?

With Schottenheimer coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, tight end Jared Cook led the team each of the past two seasons in receptions. He had 52 for 634 yards and three touchdowns (ranking 15th in receptions in the NFL at the position) in 2014 and 51 for 671 (a team record for receiving yards for a tight end) and five touchdowns in 2013.  Teammate Lance Kendricks was 28th among tight ends in the league last season with 27 catches for 259 yards and five touchdowns and had 32 catches for 258 with four touchdowns the previous year.

When Schottenheimer was coordinator with the New York Jets before that, tight end Dustin Keller led the team in both 2011 and 2010 in receptions. He ranked ninth among tight ends in the NFL in 2011 with 62 catches for 811 yards and five touchdowns and 11th in 2010 with 55 for 687 with five touchdowns. - Marc Weiszer, OnlineAthens.com

Rome was a high-4 star recruit out of Valdosta in the 2011 cycle and has pro-potential.  If his toe issues have finally been resolved, expect a huge contribution out of his 6-6, 250 lb. frame.  Word has it that he's trimmed down and benefited from off-season conditioning.

SUPER SOPH

In 2014, true-freshman Jeb Blazevich (6-5, 249 - Charlotte Christian, Charlotte, NC) became the #1 tight end almost by default as the aforementioned injuries to Jay Rome forced someone to step up.  This was a lot to ask out of a first-year player who had to learn blocking schemes while getting his body prepared for the rigors of taking on athletic rush-ends over the course of an SEC season.  Blazevich has 18 receptions for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2014 which led all tight ends.  Although not a huge sample size, he certainly demonstrated why Georgia recruited him so hard.  He's got soft hands and is a tough yards-after-catch receiver who acquitted himself very well when asked to block.

Blazevich is very athletic and has deceptive speed which will pose problems for any linebacker trying to cover him in situations where he's one-on-one.  With an entire off-season in Mark Hocke's S&C program, Blazevich's numbers will only elevate as he is a bona-fide All-SEC caliber player and, according to Murf Baldwin, is the type of player that will excel under Brian Schottenheimer.

Here's a little snippet where I believe the tight-end really helps:

Schottenheimer does great with the move-the-pocket game which takes advantage of his preferred mobility in QBs. This also cuts the reads in half for younger, inexperienced QBs like UGA will have next season after the graduation of fifth-year senior Hutson Mason. - Murf Baldwin

Methinks it's good to be a tight end at Georgia.  Two tight-end sets are going to be fun to watch.

IMPRESSIVE G-DAY

Jordan Davis (6-4, 235, Thompson, GA), a redshirt freshman, has excellent speed and athleticism and adds a different wrinkle because he is almost a "tweener' considering his intangibles.  He hauled in 4-passes for 74 yards and a touchdown (Faton Bauta) at the G-Day game.  Davis is an intriguing player heading into 2015 and could be a true sleeper.  Might he line up at wide-out in certain formations, like red-zone trips?  He's got the size to go up and get it.

BIG (FRESH)MAN ON CAMPUS

Jackson Harris (Columbia Central, Columbia, TN).  When you stand 6-6 and weigh over 250 lbs, you are almost a left tackle.  Almost.  Jackson Harris already has the size to be a formidable blocker but coaches are already raving about his soft hands.  He'll play.  How much remains to be seen, but his upside is absolutely tremendous and is just another weapon in Schottenheimer's Arsenal of Dawgmocracy.

Jackson Harris is a football player...

RENAISSANCE MAN

Senior Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 251, Pierce County, Blackshear, GA) is still the first guy you want off the bus.  In 2014, he caught the ball 4 times for 31 yards, but his forte is still boom-lowering, road-grading, leveling and paving.  It remains to be seen exactly how he will be utilized in Schottenheimer's scheme, but there is a place for him whether occasionally lined up at tight-end or "H-back," or back to his natural position of fullback.

BOTTOM LINE

Georgia, with a healthy Jay Rome and a proven play-maker in Jeb Blazevich, will have additional size, experience and quality of depth with an emerging Jordan Davis and SEC-ready Jackson Harris.  Tight-ends were under-utilized last season - perhaps because of lack of depth - or, by design.  This season, assuming we can stay healthy, the tight-ends will be an offensive feature because of a philosophical coaching shift and available, quality players to take the field.  They can all catch and block.  This bodes very well for the offense as a whole.  The anticipation of seeing this put into practice is something that will go a long, long way into making Georgia's offense truly dangerous and cause opposing defensive coordinators match up  problems.  I hope they're already losing sleep.  I know I would be reaching for the Ambien...

GO DAWGS!