INSIDE TU FOOTBALL: THE TIGHT ENDS
Aug 12, 2013
Tulsa, Okla. - The Tulsa football team was back on the grass of Harwell Field on Monday morning after taking Sunday off. The Golden Hurricane participated in some team bonding on Sunday with an afternoon of bowling.
Team DP with captain Derek Patterson and teammates Chris Wallace and Rob Riederer claimed the bowling championship with a 122-95 victory over Team Langer, consisting of captain Zack Langer, Matt Hickman and Rey Higuera.
On Monday it was back to business for Tulsa as the Hurricane went through a two-hour workout.
"Overall, it was a good day and practice. I thought we ran around. It looked like the legs were a little fresher. We had a day off on Sunday. We went to church as a team, then canceled practice to go bowling, trying to build a little camaraderie and let them get their legs get back," said Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "We tried to do a situational practice, where we did some third-and-long situations. The defense definitely should have the advantage there, and they held up and did very well. We had a little trouble with pass protection today for the first time. We were getting some rush issues, even when they were just bringing a four-man rush. There are two sides to that. It's great for the defense, but a little disconcerting for the offense. They shouldn't be able to get a four-man rush on us."
INSIDE TU FOOTBALL: THE TIGHT ENDS
Tulsa has gone through the first 10 days of preseason camp with four tight ends who have not seen a game snap at the major college level. "We have four tight ends in our fall camp. Of those, three have four years of eligibility remaining, which is kind of neat. Two of them have been redshirted," said Blankenship.
Red-shirt freshman Tyler Wilson (6-7, 248) is at the top of the depth chart. "Tyler is definitely a step ahead of the other guys, and I think it's more just because of his year of experience and being redshirted," said Blankenship. Wilson caught 28 passes for 308 yards as a prep senior at Ponca City High School in 2011.
"But I've been very pleased. Garrett McGrady is pushing hard for playing time. I think he can help us," added Blankenship. McGrady (6-6, 230) enrolled this past January and went through most of spring drills at defensive end before moving to tight end late in spring workouts. As a prep senior McGrady played just five games his senior season at Bethany High School in Yukon, Oklahoma, and as a tight end caught 11 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
The third freshman in the mix at tight end is true frosh Kolton Shindelar (6-6, 252). "Kolton is still in a learning curve, but it's not hard to see when he is confident what to do, how physical he can be, both running and blocking," said Blankenship.
Shindelar, an all-state track selection in 110-meter hurdles, 200 meters and long jump, is an athletic player, who had just four receptions for 64 yards and two TDs last year as a prep senior at Liberty (Mo.) High School.
The fourth tight end is junior Trevor Toliver (6-0, 249), a walk-on athlete from Sapulpa High School. "Trevor is a young man that switched over from defensive end in the spring, and in his first few practices, has shown some of the same attributes as the other guys," said Blankenship.
Tight Ends Coach Scott Downing added, "I'm pleased with where they're at right now. I really love their length and I love their willingness to get after people in the blocking game, because that's one of our key elements. They've got to be an asset in the running game. They're all starting to show that."
Blankenship hopes that the tight end position will be more involved in the offense from a pass-catching standpoint as well.
"What we try to do is find a way to get our best 11 on the field that all have a threat. Two seasons ago, Clay Sears was one of those guys that stayed on the field a lot. We had the ability to have Clay as a true tight end and just move him out into the slot, and do other things as a receiver. That's kind of where we're envisioning this to go, and I think that Tyler, Kolton and Garrett have the ability to be end-of-the-line tight ends, but also to have enough receiving ability to be a threat when we split them out a little bit," added Blankenship.
Tulsa may also have junior tight end Charlie Copa (6-5, 264) on-hand this season. Copa, who played in 13 games and started three games last year for the Hurricane, has missed preseason drills with an injury.
Tulsa opens the season on Thursday, August 29th in Bowling Green, Ohio against the Bowling Green Falcons. Tulsa will open the home season on Saturday, Sept. 7 against the Colorado State Rams. Both games start at 6:00 pm (CT). Season tickets start at just $78 and are still available by calling 918.631.GoTU or going online at TulsaHurricane.com.
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