The Big Board: Tight ends' impact

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
8:45
AM ET
As we get set for the start of the 2012 season, we'll be digging into the numbers at NoleNation to determine some of the underlying storylines as Florida State aims for an ACC title. Today's topic: Tight end use.

Florida State locked up it's latest commitment for the 2013 class Tuesday when tight end Christian Morgan (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy) announced he plans to join the Seminoles next fall.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Morgan should be a beast on the line, but as his high school coach, Chris Cunningham, pointed out, he's got his share of versatility, too.

“As a tight end, I think he’s very close to everything you look for,” Cunningham said. “He’s definitely going to get the job done when it comes to securing the edges and blocking, but he’s also a dangerous receiver. He’s a kid who can get you some good mismatches."


Whether Jimbo Fisher and the FSU offense finds a way to incorporate that versatility, however, will be an interesting question to ponder moving forward.

Looking back through recent history, FSU hasn't shied away from throwing the ball, but the impact of tight ends on the passing game has generally been minimal.

While the Seminoles threw for more than 3,300 yards last season, less than 9 percent of that total went to tight ends, despite the presence of talented freshman Nick O'Leary, who accounted for 12 catches and 164 yards. Only Wake Forest and Virginia utilized their tight ends less in 2011.

And that's not an aberration. Here's the tight end impact in each of the past five seasons:

2011: 21 catches, 241 yards, 2 touchdowns (8.5 percent)

2010: 18 catches, 203 yards, 1 touchdown (7.2 percent)

2009: 12 catches, 105 yards, 2 touchdowns (4.1 percent)

2008: 9 catches, 91 yards, 1 touchdown (4.2 percent)

2007: 11 catches, 84 yards, 1 touchdown (4.3 percent)

So no, not a whole lot of work for the tight ends. And FSU loses two seniors from last year's team, prompting former defender Dan Hicks to play at the position in tandem with O'Leary during spring practice.

But it's also obvious that the tight ends have seen more action in two years under Fisher than they had during the previous regime, despite a deep corps of wideouts that have needed their share of attention, too.

That makes Morgan's arrival a bit more intriguing, and consider teaming him with O'Leary -- himself the top tight end prospect in the country two years ago -- and it's clear that the depth at the position won't be ignored for long.

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