March 13, 2013
The Florida State football team starts spring practice March 20 and Seminoles.com has you covered with daily looks at each position on the roster. We continue today with a glance at the tight ends.
March 12: QBs | March 14: OL | March 15: LBs | March 16: RBs/FBs | March 17: DBs | March 18: WRs | March 19: DL
|Dan Hicks||Switched to DE|
Florida State’s tight ends traditionally have never been a legitimate focal point of the offense but with Nick O’Leray, Christo Kourtizidis and Kevin Haplea all back at the position for 2013, the ‘Noles have the pass-catching and run-blocking personnel to become more dangerous in that facet of the game.
Throw in new assistant coach Tim Brewster, who is a tight ends guru of sorts with a long list of proteges that includes NFL All-Pro Antonio Gates, and FSU could be on the verge of something new and improved at the tight end spot.
O’Leary is the top returning player among tight ends and saw his role increase as a true sophomore last season. His career highs in receptions (21) and yards (252) last year were the best among ‘Noles tight ends since 2006 and his three touchdown grabs were the most since Melvin Pearsall snagged five in 1994.
Starting this spring, O’Leary has the ability to improve and to post even better numbers than those in his third year in the program and should be considered a ptoential breakout candidate.
Behind O’Leary on the depth chart, Haplea enters his first and only spring in Tallahassee after joining the team just prior to fall camp last August after transferring from Penn State. Haplea finished his first year in the ACC with just three receptions but seemed to get more and more comfortable within the offense as the year progressed and could experience tremendous gains as a senior.
With Dan Hicks moved back to defensive end after a knee injury sidelined him in what would have been his first season at tight end last year and Will Tye electing to transfer to Stony Brook this off-season, Kourtzidis is the third and final member of the tight end depth chart for the spring.
After playing in eight games and catching one pass for 13 yards as a rookie last year, the former four-star recruit’s development in his first spring will be important to FSU’s rotation. Known more so for his pass catching when Florida State signed him, the California native’s improved blocking skills in the spring could help generate more playing time and more opportunities to use his strong hands in the passing game while the Seminoles’ quarterbacks battle for the starting job.
Depth is a concern with just three scholarship players on the roster but O’Leary, Haplea and Kourtzidis form a nice trio of varying strengths and weaknesses.
After showcasing more two tight-end looks last spring with O’Leary and Hicks, how these three will be used remains to be seen but there is strong potential for new defensive dangers courtesy of FSU’s tight ends — a trait that hasn’t been seen too often in Tallahassee.