The tight ends are making a comeback in college football. A position that seemingly disappeared with the emergence of the air raid offenses. However, as the offense has evolved, coaches have been finding that rare big-bodied athlete that has become more of a fullback/tight end hybrid.
When Dana Hoglorsen came to Morgantown, the tight end production almost disappeared, but needing a big body to work the middle of the field and to block the outside linebacker in the running game, Dana started to incorporate the tight end into his offense. As a result, he recruited West Virginia native Trevon Wesco and became a big piece of the WVU offense halfway through the 2019 season.
Head coach Neal Brown comes from that same Hal Humme air raid tree as Holgorsen. Comparing Brown and Holgorsen’s tight end/ fullback production the last four years, Dana has the advantage in the passing game.
West Virginia tight ends/fullbacks hauled in 57 receptions (7 touchdowns) the last four years. However, the bulk of those receptions (42) came last season. Current New York Jet Trevon Wesco grabbed 26 for 366 yards and a touchdown and Jovani Haskins nabbed 16 for 148 yards and a TD.
As for Neal Browns offense, he had a tight end in Sam Letton that was progressively improving each year until he was suspended after three games in 2018. Overall, the last four years his tight ends/fullbacks brought in 25 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown.
How much Neal Brown will use the tight end in Morgantown, is yet to be determined. Haskins is proven talent but like the rest of the depth chart, there is a lot of inexperience.
Jovani Haskins No. 84 (6-4, 245-lbs) r-jr
Haskins is not built like a traditional tight end. He’s big but at 245-lbs that is considered undersized. However, he is extremely athletic and is his strength is when he is lined up in the slot. The coaching staff has worked with him coming off the line of scrimmage and there in no questioning his ability to block. Now that he is the starter, I expect the offense to utilize Haskins in the middle of the field and have him slip out into the open after establishing the running game. Jovani will make plays and keep defenses on their heels. Haskins is the only player in the group that is only listed as a tight end.
TJ Banks No. 85 (6-5, 253-lbs) r-fr
Banks played receiver and tight end at East Allegheny High where he earned 2A first-team all-state honors. TJ is a gifted athlete and with his versatility, he will line up at the fullback position to help the running game. Having Banks and Haskins on the field at the same time could keep the defenses off-balance.
Mike O’Laughlin No. 87 (6-5, 250-lbs) r-fr
Mike was named to the Illinois all-state team his two final years at Fenwick High School. Although listed third on the depth chart, don’t be surprised to see the redshirt freshman on the field. He is coming off a season ending knee injury he suffered in fall camp last year, but he may work his way up the depth chart.
Jesse Beal No. 80 (6-6, 248-lbs) r-fr
Jesse has a fascinating story. He spent 10 years in the minor league system before deciding to walk-on to the West Virginia football team as a tight end. Not expecting much from him in just his second year in Morgantown, but he is someone to keep an eye on in next couple of years.
Looking at the fullbacks, they are also listed as tight ends as well. However, most of their time will be spent lined up in the backfield and by the looks of how Neal Brown runs his offense, they will be helping pave the way for the running backs. Much like offensive lineman, they won’t receive a lot of glory but look for them to blow up some linebacker on Saturdays.
Logan Thimons No. 42 (6-0, 231-lbs) r-jr
Logan was moved from linebacker to tight end in the spring of 2018. During his time in Morgantown, Logan has primarily been used on special teams.
Elijah Drummond No. 41 (6-0, 235-lbs) r-jr
Elijah played in two games last season (Texas Tech and Youngstown State) and saw most of his action against Youngstown State (9 plays).
Joseph Turner No. 47 (6-0, 226-lbs) r-so
Joseph hasn’t made his way on the field yet, but like Drummond never count out a West Virginia kid.
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