The Washington Huskies will have a new offensive scheme in place the next time they play a football game, but it’s highly unlikely that the tight end position will be any less important, or any less utilized.
Jimmy Lake is a defensive coach, but he studies offenses. He is said to spend more time in offensive classes than defensive classes when he attends coaching clinics. He knows the hardest thing to defend is an offense that keeps you guessing, and the easiest is
the Air Raid one that is limited and predictable in its sets, motion, and tendencies. Using tight ends is a way for offensive coaches to create mismatches in the passing and running games, and force opponents to change personnel.
Chris Petersen’s regime recruited well at the tight end position, and also developed that talent into NFL players like Will Dissly and Drew Sample. While one exciting playmaker in the position group has moved on to the NFL, there are plenty of traditional tight ends returning for the Huskies.
Husky Tight Ends
|* Denotes Walk-on|
Hunter Bryant led the entire UW team with 825 receiving yards, and his 15.9 yards per reception was best among all Huskies with at least 10 catches. There aren’t any tight ends like Bryant on the 2020 Husky roster, and replacing his level of production will likely need to come from the wide receiver position. Bryant is an elite athlete, particularly gifted in body control and corralling difficult catches.
Every scholarship tight end on the UW roster (and possibly all of the walkons), are already better in-line blockers than Bryant. This isn’t big news, or any kind of slam on Hunter Bryant; he’s just not built for that.
None of the guys on the 2020 Husky TE depth chart will be asked to do much of what Bryant did, and while they will line up in multiple places —and make plays in the passing game— ultimately they’ll be groomed to maul in the run game.
A pair of these future “maulers” were jewels of the 2020 recruiting class, both plucked from southern California by Lake and former tight end coach Jordan Paopao.
In Mark Redman, the Huskies landed the 7th rated tight end in the nation according to 247 Sports (0.8974 composite ranking), and were able to fight off a push by Steve Sarkisian and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
You wanna see a guy commit violent acts against high school kids while occasionally also catching and running with a football? Watch Redman’s juinor highlights here. You can tell he loves to block, and most defenders end up grabbing his facemask and pulling him to the ground so the punishment will just end.
Redman is one to be excited about. Very good hands, and he adjusts to the football well for someone with such a long frame. He was listed at 6’6” 239 in high school, but he’s likely well over 250 as his body would definitely allow that kind of growth.
The Huskies also reeled in the #45 tight end in the 2020 class with the signing of Mason West from La Habra, California. At 6’3” 242, West fits that same mold of a blocking tight end. He’s pretty stiff in his route running at this point, but catches the football with ease and uses his body to shield the ball from defenders.
Look at Devin Culp in 2017 compared to now:
When Culp was recruited to Washington out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, he was a lanky WR (he does NOT look 235 there) with lots of room to grow into his frame. He’s now pushing 260 and the Huskies seem determined to make him a great blocker. The redshirt sophomore played in 12 of 13 games a year ago, mostly as an inline tight end or as the third TE in short yardage. Of all the players at this position for the Huskies, Culp has the most impressive receiving skills when you watch the HS tape. Although he failed to record a catch last season, it will be interesting to see if this bigger, stronger version of Devin Culp can make some plays in the passing game before his Husky career is over.
In Cade Otton, the Huskies have an All-Conference caliber tight end who can block, catch the football, and is learning to be a great route runner. If you missed Max’s tight end year in review, you can read advanced stats until your head explodes. The number that popped to me was that Otton was in on 91% of the meaningful offensive snaps. He lined up in-line, wide, slotted, and in the traditional fullback position. He’s got a super-high football IQ, and rarely misses an assignment. He can also snatch the football, tuck it, and get upfield.
For Otton to take the next step, he will need to improve his ability to adjust to the football. He had a couple drops last season on balls that were a little behind him, but catch-able. He can still get better at selling the delayed TE screen as well.
Jacob Kizer impressed the coaches immediately. He must have, because he saw the field right away his freshman season, playing in every game after the season opener at Rutgers in 2017. Of all the Husky maulers at the tight end position, Kizer may be the best of them all.
He has just three catches in his UW career, despite playing in 33 games. Kizer missed most of last season with injury, but saw a lot of action in the last four games when he returned, and opponents were treated to a steady diet of running to his side when Kizer was healthy down the stretch.
Position Battle to Watch
In 2019, walk-on Jack Westover found a niche as the primary tight end lining up as a fullback. Westover will have two new blocking tight ends to battle on the depth chart in freshmen Redman & West, so it will be interesting to see if he is able to regain his role.
Otton and Kizer figure to play the majority of the snaps, with Culp battling the freshmen and Westover for playing time as the 3rd tight end.