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Monday, February 18, 2013
Position breakdown: Tight end

By Jake Trotter

NORMAN, Okla. -- Tight end was the position that wasn’t for the Sooners in 2012.

OU’s first-year tight end triplets did not develop as rapidly as the coaches had hoped. Then Jalen Saunders was cleared, and the Sooners went almost exclusively with four-wide sets without a tight end.

Taylor McNamara
Will tight end Taylor McNamara make an impact for the Sooners in 2013?
The receiving corps won’t be quite as deep next season, and with the Sooners dead-set on running the ball with more physicality, tight end will be a key position for the offense.

OU tried to address this by signing a junior-college tight end, but whiffed on top targets Beau Sandland and Emmanuel Bibbs. The Sooners are left to roll with what they’ve got, which is Brannon Green and redshirt freshmen Taylor McNamara and Sam Grant.

“We like the three guys that we’ve got here for next year,” Bob Stoops said on signing day. “These young guys that we have from a year ago were top recruits, guys that could have went a lot of places that I believe next year will make an impact.”

With fullback Trey Millard able to play some tight end, the Sooners really need only one of the three to emerge. McNamara might be the most likely candidate. The former four-star recruit out of California now has almost a full year in the program after enrolling early last year. Shoulder surgery forced him to take a medical redshirt last season, but he should be able to participate in his spring ball. McNamara has the most potential as a pass-catcher, and for that reason, the Sooners will give him every opportunity to win the job.

While McNamara has more potential as a receiver, Grant is the better blocking prospect. At 6-foot-7, 234 pounds, Grant could fill into an offensive tackle if the Sooners wanted him, too. Down the line, the Sooners would love to use both of McNamara and Grant on the field, similar to how they once utilized Jermaine Gresham and Brody Eldridge. That’s probably a couple years away from becoming a possibility. Next season, OU would just take a competent, consistent starter between the two.

Green actually was the closest thing to a tight end the Sooners had last season. If neither McNamara nor Grant is ready to play, Green could fill a similar role again as a spot tight end in short-yardage situations.