Tight ends should play a key role in offense
This is part five of a five-part series looking at Oklahoma football's top younger offensive players. The order does not dictate ranking.
When Oklahoma’s offense takes the field in less than a month against Louisiana-Monroe, there won’t be too many surprises among the eleven, except for one position, and no it’s not quarterback.
Either Blake Bell or Trevor Knight will be the signal caller. The offensive line will return many of the same faces. And headlining the backs and receivers will be players that all saw time last season.
As for the position of mystery: who lines up at tight end for the Sooners? That is, if anyone does line up at the forgotten spot at OU.
Coach Stoops hasn’t always neglected to pencil in a player at the position.
The names of Trent Smith, Joe Jon Finley, Jermaine Gresham and James Hanna surely ring a bell. All were frequently targeted tight ends under Stoops.
So, who fills the roster at tight end for the Sooners heading into the fall? Anyone…? Anyone…? Anyone…?
I’m sure Sooner Nation’s most dedicated could rattle off the names, but for those who can’t, I don’t blame you.
Of the four tight ends, they have a combined three career catches between them. Of those three receptions, senior Brannon Green has them all – which leaves three redshirt freshman tight ends left.
Young, yes. Inexperienced, yes.
Taylor McNamara, Sam Grant and Connor Knight will be playing their first full year of college football under the wing of tight end coach Jay Boulware, in his first year at Oklahoma.
McNamara managed to play in two games last year for the Sooners before he was sidelined for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and granted a medical redshirt.
Grant is a blocking specialist and drew the praise of the coaching staff earlier in the offseason, but has had little opportunity thus far.
Knight, the most unknown of all, is the twin brother of quarterback Trevor, and walked on to the team a season ago.
The young corps of tight ends is completely unproven. Last year, Stoops noted that the three weren’t yet ready to contribute to the team. Because of the lack of depth at the position, the Sooner offense often took the field without a tight end.
One year later, here we are, and we still don’t know if the redshirt freshmen have developed into potential playmakers for the OU offense.
Will they sit behind Green on the depth chart, will they play at all, or will Oklahoma’s young trio of tight ends turn out to be difference makers sooner rather than later?
Besides the coaching staff, I’m not sure if anyone knows.
One thing I do know, is if the tight ends are ready to play, the offense will benefit. Not only will the Sooners have more success running the ball with an extra blocker on the line, but also, Bell or Trevor Knight will have the comfort of dumping it off to a tight end in the flats or tossing it to them if they sneak by the second level of the defense.
McNamara, Grant and Connor Knight haven’t proven much in a Sooner uniform, but now, all have the chance to prove a tight end belongs on the field for Oklahoma when the season kicks off.
Joe Mussatto is a journalism sophomore.