By Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
Tight End Recap:
It’s the forgotten position; the one that isn’t discussed when talking about the offense of the Florida State football team.
The tight end position at FSU has long been one that does the dirty work. Known more for being extra blockers on the line rather than pass-catchers, the Seminole tight ends oftentimes are lost in the shuffle of all the talented offensive players that come through the program.
But could this season be different? Could this be the year where the tight end position becomes a bonafide aerial threat for the Seminoles’ offensive attack?
If the conclusion of the 2008 season is any indication, it could possibly happen. Starting tight end Caz Piurowski entered spring practice after finishing his junior campaign in the Champs Sports Bowl with arguably the best receiving performance of his career by hauling in two catches and grabbing his first-ever touchdown pass.
Spring practice came and went with Piurowski getting all the work as the first-string tight end — something that was very important for a player that bounced between tight end and offensive tackle in the early part of his career and is still looking to conquer his permanent position.
His backups, Beau Reliford and Ja’Baris Little, were also able to participate in their first-ever spring practice period – again, very important for a player’s development. Both used spring practice to get better at the little things such as blocking, route-running and receiving.
And don’t discount the performance of the offensive line, when analyzing the play of the tight ends in the spring and what it means for the future.
The FSU offensive line provided further proof this spring that they are the most dominate unit on the team by helping pace a strong offense. The simple fact that the line displayed such consistency in protecting the quarterback and generating openings for the running backs means there should be more chances for the tight ends to contribute.
What to watch for:
With freedom comes opportunity and that is exactly what could happen to the tight end position at FSU this coming season.
With a potent offensive line that doesn’t need extra assistance covering the quarterback’s blindside or helping free up a running back, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and tight ends coach James Coley may be more apt to unleash the tight ends as pass-catchers this fall.
Piurowski has a unique blend of size and deceptive athleticism that could cause problems for opposing defenses. At 6-foot-7 and 271 pounds, he has the build to shed blocks after the snap and the athletic ability to find creases in the defense.
Helping matters is his experience. As a fourth-year player, Piurowski knows what to expect on the football field and is capable of being a viable weapon for quarterback Christian Ponder. His performance in the victory against the overmatched Wisconsin Badgers this past December is evidence of that.
Reliford and Little are also intriguing in that they offer differing styles of play compared to Piurowski. Both very athletic, the two of them now have the chance to show their skills after battling the learning curve as true freshmen a season ago.
But they are still untested commodities.
Little played in 11 games as a true freshman and even started one of them. But he has yet to catch a pass as a Seminole. Reliford has one catch on his resume but he played in just four games a year ago as he got acclimated to the college game.
Without much experience, that learning curve is still in effect. Stay tuned, though, as their tremendous upside as receiving tight ends is certainly worth watching as their development continues.
While that happens it’s on Piurowski to avoid injury, be productive and set an example both off and on the gridiron.
If he can do so, maybe the tight end position at Florida State won’t be forgotten anymore.
Seminoles.com Position Analysis Archive: