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Nevada football summer position preview: Tight ends

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Nevada’s first game isn’t until Sept. 4 in a road contest against California — their first non-conference game since its 37-21 victory against Texas El-Paso on Sept. 21, 2019.

After finishing the year 7-2 — capped-off by a 38-27 win over Tulane in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — the Pack look to replicate their successful season. But before the regular season begins, let’s preview the roster.

This week, we dive into the tight ends, led by Cole Turner. Let’s get into it!

Previous weeks:


Anyone departing?

Henry Ikahihifo

Ikahihifo entered the transfer portal in mid-December, he announced via twitter.

Ikahihifo, with two years of eligibility left, had just one catch for 10 yards last season. In 20 career games with the Wolf Pack, he totaled seven catches for 37 yards without any touchdowns.

Who’s returning?

NCAA Football: Idaho Potato Bowl-Ohio vs Nevada
Nevada tight end Cole Turner (19) makes a catch near the sidelines during the first half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Turner

Turner was one of the country’s best tight ends last season. Turner hauled in the team’s second-most catches (49) for 605 yards and nine touchdowns — tying Romeo Doubs for the conference high. Though Doubs oftentimes levied defenses down the field, Turner ate up space across the middle coupled with utilizing his 6-foot-6 frame to leap above smaller defensive backs in the red zone; he and quarterback Carson Strong perfected the goal-line fade throughout the season. Eight of his nine scores came in the red zone, trailing BYU’s Issac Rex (9) and Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith (Alabama; 11) for the nation’s most. He was also one of the Pack’s top third down safety valves. Turner hauled in 12 catches for 205 yards and fetched eight first downs in such situations. He had eight catches for 158 yards on third downs with 10 or more yards to go.

Reagan Roberson

Among those returning, Roberson and Turner are the Pack’s only two tight ends listed on the roster. Roberson played in all nine games as a tight end and on the special teams without recording a stat. The Minden, Nev., native has played in each of Nevada’s 35 games across the last three seasons. It’s hard to forget about his game-winning touchdown reception against Arkansas State in the Arizona Bowl in 2018.

Any new faces?

Carlton Brown

Brown is listed as a three-star recruit out of Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo, Calif., per 247sports.com. He chose the Wolf Pack over UNLV, San Diego State, Oregon State, Liberty, Fresno State and Cal Poly, among others.

Brown has totaled 43 catches for 812 yards and 16 scores over the last two seasons. As a junior — earning first-team All-League — he hauled in 25 catches for 524 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brown is an active member in community service and is involved with the Special Olympics, Jack’s Helping Hand and Black Lives Matter.

Here is what Mountain West Connection’s own Mike Wittmann wrote about Brown in Nevada’s 2021 recruiting breakdown:

Carlton brings great size into the class for the Wolf Pack. He is a favorite target in the redzone, where his height and leaping ability become a huge factor. Brown is a strong route-runner who is able to get open with his cuts and long strides. He is a big factor in the run game, taking out defenders and opening up holes. Carlton should develop into a matchup nightmare for the rest of the Mountain West.

My Thoughts:

When offensive coordinator Matt Mumme implemented his air raid scheme prior to the 2017 season, Nevada’s tight ends were primarily blocking tight ends. Just two Wolf Pack tight ends — Brandon Scott in 2017 and Trae Carter-Wells in 2018 — caught at least ten passes; Scott caught 10 (for 96 yards) and Carter-Wells had 11 catches (for 93 yards). That all changed last year. Turner’s tool package built another lethal contraption within the offense. And with Cooks healthy, Strong has not one, but two towering red zone lob threats, with Roberson providing palpable blocking in the Pack’s heavier packages.