Coming into this year we have a new Offensive Coordinator in Chris Long. One of his priorities which he has discussed repeatedly in press conferences is that he intends to get more work from the tight end position. Getting extra targets down field and extra blocking for the running backs would definitely be beneficial in helping move the ball, especially given that Tech has not shown much highlight talent at the Tight End position. That said we have some new prospects and returning talent that show promise so lets take a look at this important position as we move into next year.
Peje will be making a big shift this year. Last year he played 9 games at wide receiver and helped contribute 138 yds to the offense along with 1 touchdown. This year Peje is being shifted to the tight end position where he will be expected to contribute as a receiving option for the position.
Peje lacks the size of other tight ends, but he is known for being a quick receiver with the ability to make tough catches in coverage. I would expect to see Peje used in long opportunities where a quick pass will be useful against opposing defenses.
Dylan was our leading Tight End from a statistics stand point last year. Dylan had 11 catches for 112 yds last year but no touchdowns. Dylan is not the same type of snappy and speedy receiver that Peje is, but Dylan’s bigger body means that he can really contribute in the run game. for goal line or short yardage opportunities you want Dylan on the line to help push things forward.
Ben Wilhelm, Chris Miller, Billy Ward, and Anthony Minella
Ben, Chris, Billy, and Anthony are all redshirt players from previous years. They have not seen much playing time other than being present on special teams or as reserve blockers at the TE position. Not much is known about this group but they will be needed to contribute as the TE position becomes more prevalent on the field. expect these guys to mostly be used as blockers because of their strength, but don’t be surprised if they pick up some important playing time and passing yardage as the season moves forward.
Luke might be one of the biggest additions to the GT team that you haven’t heard of. Luke Benson did some amazing things at Syracuse over his career and has shown talent both in the blocking game as well as the receiving game. Luke caught 5 touchdowns with Syracuse while he was on the teams and was an iron man who showed up in 34 of the 35 games that were played while he was on campus.
Receiving, blocking, this guy can do it all and the coaches know it. Chris Long has already pointed to Luke being one of the key transfers on the year and a player that Tech will need to rely on as the season moves forward.
Ben comes into the school as a 3 star player from Cypress Texas. Over his last 2 seasons Ben acquired over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in the receiving game. Ben has surprising speed and the ability to make tough catches in traffic, but most of his highlight reels show little in the blocking department. We will need to see how Ben continues to develop over time.
Who’s Above the Line?
At the moment I would expect the starters and biggest contributors to the TE position to be Luke Benson and Dylan Leonard as they are the ones with the most experience at the position and they have the most balance at blocking and receiving. Peje should come in mostly in situations that require a solid receiver, possibly on bump and run play action plays. The remaining member will contribute off the bench and may be asked to step up as necessary depending on the rotation. Regardless keep an eye on the Tight End position this year as we expect it to have a much bigger impact on the offense this year.
What do you want to have the biggest impact this season?