This will be an ongoing series with WVSN’s Cody Nespor and Tom Bragg grading the performance of each position group during the 2020 West Virginia University football season. A new position will be graded each week day. We graded the quarterbacks on Tuesday, running backs on Wednesday and receivers on Thursday — today we look at the WVU tight ends:
West Virginia used its tight ends more this season than in Neal Brown’s first season, but still not enough to make any sort of major impact on the team. For what it is worth, redshirt-sophomore Mike O’Laughlin did shine at times when given a chance. The thing is, those chances were few and far between.
O’Laughlin made 15 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown this season. He made multiple receptions in six games this season, but never eclipsed 50 receiving yards and had several games with no production. T.J. Banks, his primary backup, made four receptions for 41 yards and one touchdown.
It seems like O’Laughlin, Banks and freshman Charles Finley will continue to grow the role of tight ends in WVU’s offense, but the lack of chances they had this season makes it hard to grade them any better for 2020.
WVU Twitter explodes whenever a tight end gets involved in the game for the Mountaineers, but that didn’t happen much in 2020.
Sure, West Virginia’s tight ends are more involved in the game plan under Neal Brown than in the past (minus the second half of 2018 with current New York Jet Trevon Wesco emerging as a threat) but that doesn’t mean they were very productive. Cody crunched the stats above, so I’ll spare you a second reading of those. Bottom line: WVU’s tight ends were not very productive in 2020 but not a lot was asked of them.
Mike O’Laughlin was pretty good when given opportunities this season, and if West Virginia’s receivers don’t step up their games in 2021 I would not be shocked if whoever is the Mountaineer quarterback starts to get O’Laughlin the ball more often.