The LSU offense might have found its missing piece at tight end with Jacory Washington.
The Tigers have lacked a productive receiving threat at tight end since Richard Dickson, who averaged 28 catches and three touchdowns a year in his final three seasons at LSU.
LSU's tight ends have combined for 28 catches and zero touchdowns over the past two seasons.
This does not mean the tight ends have been ineffective. The Tigers do an excellent job of utilizing them as blockers in the power run game. Dillon Gordon, Logan Stokes and Chase Clement were all maulers.
However, LSU has lacked a tight end that can attack the middle of the field. That could quickly change with Washington.
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Washington is a 6'5'' tight end prospect with a wide catch radius. He primarily lined up outside at receiver in high school, towering over every defensive back he faced.
Washington was not known for his blocking. At a meager 220 pounds, he has some growing to do before being ready to get down and dirty in the trenches.
Speed is not Washington's best trait either. He cannot break away from the pack like Alabama's O.J. Howard. What Washington can bring to the unit is great ball skills and the ability to catch the ball in traffic.
LSU had hoped for two different players to step up at tight end last season. Dickson's younger brother, Travis, finished 2013 with the highest yards-per-catch average on the team at 21.8, but those yards came from only five catches. He was left uncovered on most of those.
Freshman DeSean Smith gave fans hope when he played on LSU's first drive of the season against TCU. After the next game against UAB, when Smith caught his only pass, he was rarely part of the offense.
Dickson and Smith could take a massive leap forward next season. Gordon and Stokes could be featured more through the air as well.
However, of LSU's tight ends for next season, only Smith and Washington have the potential to be a player that can scare a defense.
Former LSU tight end DeAngelo Peterson followed Dickson's footsteps. While Peterson did not put up eye-popping numbers, defenses had to respect his speed and playmaking potential.
Washington is much like Peterson in that they are not all-around tight ends. Washington looks to be more of a big receiver now with the arms and frame to be a tight end.
Which TE will lead LSU in receptions next season?
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has had success with tight ends in the NFL. Few would consider Baltimore's Dennis Pitta as an elite NFL tight end, yet he was successful in his final two seasons under Cameron.
Cameron will prepare Washington to play in his pro-style offense. If Washington can be productive early, there is no telling what his ceiling could be at the end of his LSU career. He not only has the potential to be the next great SEC tight end, but a possible NFL draft pick.
LSU tight end coach Steve Ensminger was the Tigers' primary recruiter for Washington. Ensminger, who has had the title since 2010, hopes the freshman can be the first LSU tight end catch to at least 19 passes in a season during his coaching tenure.
Of the 12 SEC schools that have been in the conference since 2010, only LSU and Kentucky have not had a tight end catch at least 19 passes in a season.
LSU's lack of production at tight end is alarming. Washington will get his opportunity in fall camp to challenge for snaps, though it will probably take him a year to get acclimated to the college level.
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