Nebraska enters the 2009 season with a solid idea of which tight ends will be major contributors come fall. They will be looking to players like Mike McNeil and Drew Young to continue with, and exceed the level of play that they reached in 2009.
One major loss at the position due to graduation was the graduation of Hunter Teafatiller.
Below is a breakdown of the players looking to make a splash at the tight end position for Nebraska in 2009. Classes listed will be for 2009:
Jr. Mike McNeil 6'4" 240 lbs
McNeil set the school record last season for most receptions (32) by a tight end in a season. He also hauled in six touchdown passes. McNeil possesses big play potential and is especially dangerous on play-action passes, down the seam of the defense and in the red zone.
McNeil is definitely more of a pass receiving tight end than a blocker, but with Ron Brown as his position coach, the physical aspect of the position will not be forgotten.
If there is one player that will be looked to help Nebraska's first-time quarterback become comfortable in the passing game, it has to be McNeil. Mike possesses some exceptional hands, demonstrated by some outstanding catches last season.
Jr. Drew Young 6'4" 245
Young caught nine passes in 2008 and showed some flashes of his ability. One play from last year really signified his abilities. It was the 55-yard catch against Western Michigan.
Young was well covered on the play, but Joe Ganz lofted a perfect pass over the outstretched arms of a Western Michigan defender. The ball came in directly over the top of Young's head and shoulders and, without being able to see the ball, he reached up and the ball landed softly in his grasp. That was just a, " Wow!" moment.
Only perfect timing between the quarterback and tight end made this catch possible; as well as hundreds of practice repetitions.
So. Ryan Hill 6'3" 245 lbs
Ryan had three catches last year and is probably a tight end that will be looked upon more as a physical run blocking specialist. Probably the strongest of the returning players with game time experience.
The following players will be expected to add depth to the tight end position in 2009, while they become more comfortable in the Nebraska system.
Rfr. Kyler Reed 6'3" 230 lbs
Rfr. Ben Cotton 6'6" 230 lbs
Rfr. Damon Bechtold 6'4" 215 lbs
Rfr. Mychael McClure 6'5" 210 lbs
So. Jay Martin 6'2" 215 lbs
True Fr. JT Kerr 6'4" 230 lbs