Penn State Football: Room To Improve, But Tight Ends Will Be A Strength
By Ben Jones
Bill O’Brien reinvented how Penn State fans thought the tight end position could be used and it has been an area of interest ever since. The good news for Penn State is that there is plenty of talent coming back into the fold. There is work left to be done, but some of the best talent on the offensive side of the ball could come from this bunch.
James is the only tight end out the door this offseason with the NFL in his future. James may not have always been the best in the running game, but his size and big play ability made him a key asset. Losing James doesn’t make the tight end corps any slower, but James was tough to bring down and had more than a few big plays under his belt. Penn State may not have his size on the roster, but there is plenty of talent to go around to fill the void he leaves behind in big play ability.
Adam Breneman, Kyle Carter, Mike Gesicki, Cahrles Idemudia, Tom Pancoast, Dominic Salomone, Brent Wilkerson.
Carter is the most proven name of the bunch despite Breneman and Gesicki having a fair amount of playing time in their own right. Carter is coming off what was at least seen as a down year, but he is too athletic and has made too many big plays for lower numbers to discredit his abilities. Idemudia might turn a few heads this year and guys like Salomone and Wilkerson shouldn’t be overlooked to chip in as need be.
Gesicki is the one to watch though. A good on and off field relationship with Christian Hackenberg alone makes Gesicki a front runner for breakout player of the year. He had his fair share of plays last season, but with James out of the mix, it opens to door for another tight end. Gesicki is the man to bet on in this department. If Breneman stays healthy, he’s second in line for those honors.
Biggest Weakness: Run Game
James Franklin has been big on the tight end talent but hasn’t followed up any praise without mentioning the need for the tight ends to be a factor in the running game. As Penn State’s offensive line continues to develop it will be the tight ends that can help bookend that effort. The bodies and size are there, but the execution hasn’t always been up to par. Franklin knows it and so do his tight ends. As a result, this might not be a weakness for long, or if it is, the rotation might be limited to those tight ends who can catch and block until everyone gets the message.
Biggest Strength: Depth
There is a lot of talent to choose from here. Even if it isn’t quite as deadly as it was under Bill O’Brien, there is a lot to deal with. Penn State can still afford to lose a player to injury at tight end and have a guy to fill his role. That’s not a luxury in many areas on Penn State’s roster. Carter, Gesicki, Breneman, and the rest will make an impact this year.
For all the talent, this group still has a little bit to prove. But if everyone stays healthy and can contribute to the ground game, there is no reason why this can’t be a strength of the roster once again.