Losses: Marlion Bennett
Returning Players: Michael Hartvigson (So), Evan Hudson (So), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (So)
The Verdict: Better
Ok, just kidding, but really this is one of the best tight end groupings in the Pac-12 as well as the country. And all three of these guys are sophomores, so have fun defending that for the next couple of years, rest-of-the-conference.
There's not a whole lot that can be said about ASJ that hasn't been said already. He's an All-American talent who will rewrite the record books at a school that has a pretty excellent tradition at his position. And he's only going to get bigger, faster, and better each season. We all know it and that makes him boring to talk about in the best kind of way.
The thing that makes this group even more special is that the two guys behind ASJ are pretty good as well. If Mike Hartvigson were the
go-to-guy (sorry) main target, the team would still be in pretty good shape at the position. Probably not at the top of the conference, but solidly in the middle and still with an underclassman to grow into an elite weapon. And at some point in the not too distant future, Harvey will show that if you get too caught up in defending ASJ, you're going to get beaten. He showed his hands and athleticism in this play, where he got 5 feet down, both knees and an elbow while maintaining control of the ball (yet it was somehow an incompletion).
Evan Hudson is no less a stud. Every one of the former walk-on's catches has resulted in a touchdown. Try and beat that production.
Expect to see multiple tight end sets, in the traditional manner of one on each side or doubled up on on side, as well as with Michael Hartvigson playing the normal TE position while ASJ lines up in the slot or as a wideout to stress defenses and take advantage of mismatches. The depth at this position allows Steve Sarkisian to be very versatile in his alignments while alleviating concerns about the replacement of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.
Better. Austin Seferian-Jenkins.