This week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” features the tight ends of the Mountain West. Which schools have the strongest tight end units? Which have the weakest? Which schools don’t even have tight ends?
Wyoming did well in the tight end recruiting department, landing a junior college talent that should make an immediate impact. They also return a skilled pass catching tight end in Jackson Marcotte. He will need to improve in the run blocking department, but should be a big weapon for whoever starts at quarterback.
John Bates is a special talent at the tight end position, and Boise State coaches haven’t always utilized his talents the way they should. Bates’ production took a noticeable dip once Bachmeier went down with an injury, but he still finished the season with respectable numbers. I really like what the Broncos have behind Bates with sophomore Tyneil Hopper; Hopper was a 4-star recruit coming out of Georgia and proved to be an effective run blocker in 2019. I expect to see him featured more in the passing game this upcoming season.
Trey McBride was far and away the most impressive tight end I saw last season. His combination of size and speed is unique. He has NFL potential and will only be a junior this year. There is still some room for growth in the run blocking department, but the Rams have the best pass catching tight end in the Mountain West.
I was a little surprised that I ended up putting the Lobos in the “Good” category, but I watched some tape on senior tight end Marcus Williams and was very impressed. He has the ability to be an all-conference tight end and could very well be the best player on that Lobo offense.
San Diego State
Remember the name Daniel Bellinger. The 6’6” tight end has size and strong hands; he will be a vital piece to an Aztec offense that will be looking to figure out who they are on that side of the ball. Whoever starts at quarterback would be wise to look Bellinger’s way early and often.
San Jose State
The Spartans don’t really have one tight end that stands out, but they have depth. They were the only team in the Mountain West that had three tight ends with 15 or more catches. The bad news for the Spartans is that two of those three tight ends are gone. Billy Bob Humphreys will be back, but does he have the talent to be a featured tight end?
When I think of the Aggies, one of the first things that comes to mind is good tight ends. 2019 was no exception, as Caleb Repp proved to be one of the top tight ends in the Mountain West finishing the season with 36 catches for 455 yards. However, Repp is gone, and the second best tight end had only three receptions. Not only that, but the Aggies weren’t nearly effective enough running the ball last season. 2020 could be a rough year at the tight end position for Utah State.
Giovanni Fauolo, Sr. had a decent season. But with Marcus Arroyo taking over as the new head coach, I think tight ends won’t have much of a role. Fauolo is talented, but I don’t think his skill set is a good fit for Arroyo’s scheme.
I was completely flabbergasted at how little Jared Rice was utilized in 2019. Coming into the season, I thought he was going to be Fresno State’s most important weapon in the passing game. He barely cracked 300 yards, and there is nobody nearly as good behind him. It is not looking like tight end will be a position of strength for the Bulldogs heading into 2020.
Their leading tight end only had three catches in 2020, and the running game struggled a lot more than anyone expected. The Wolf Pack does not feature a tight end much in their offense, but if they are going to take the next step and become a division champion, they will need a tight end that can be an elite blocker. I don’t think they have that.
Wait, how can we evaluate their tight ends?
We know they can block, and they do it well. But I didn’t think it was fair to evaluate the Falcon tight ends when they have little to no role in the passing game. It might be better to talk about fullbacks if we are looking at Air Force.
How can you evaluate a team’s tight ends when they don’t have any on their roster? You can’t.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Be sure to stay tuned next week, as we will be moving to the other side of the ball and previewing the defensive lines.