Are you ready for some football!? We are finally climbing out of the record heat of summer, and the boys of fall will soon take the field for your University of Kentucky Wildcats. Before this year’s ‘Cats take the field, StraitPinkie has been giving you a position by position introduction to the team. Today, we are going to focus on the tight-end position and how it will look during the season.
Ever since the graduation of current Denver Bronco Jacob Tamme, the tight-end position has not been featured or even implemented into the UK offense. Since Tamme left UK, no tight-end has caught more than 18 balls in a season. As a fan, we remember the likes of Jacob Tamme and wish to see them rack up numbers like a video game. Everything coming out of the UK camp indicates these guys will play more of the role of an extra offensive lineman and continue the blocking trend rather than opening up for screen passes. The real enigma is the players really want the opportunity to catch those passes. How much will Joker allow?
Let’s meet these guys:
#84 Gabe Correll: The 6’5” 231 lb. senior sees the majority of his action on special teams assignment. However, Correll does provide veteran tight-end depth, playing in 27 games in his career. Correll is a 3rd generation Wildcat, his grandfather played in the early 50′s, was an All-American, and is a retired-jersey honoree. His father, played for the ‘Cats in the 70′s. Correll is a career walk-on player and has one catch as a Wildcat. He may not ever see the field during the offensive sets, but you’ll see plenty of him covering special teams.
#46 Patrick Ligon: The 6’4” 246 lb. junior has played the majority of his career on the defensive line. Now, the native Tennessean will be lining up as a tight-end. His most significant contributions have been recieving some reps in the upset win over #10 South Carolina, and recovering a fumble against Western Kentucky. This kid has an incredible work ethic and a team guy. WIth his willingness to do whatever the team needs, you could see him getting some more reps this year. The family lineage is also strong with this one. His grandfather, father, uncle, and cousin all played college football.
#82 Anthony Kendrick: The 6’3” 241 lb. junior is a former Texas high school wide-reciever that has made the transition to tight-end. The biggest knock against Kendrick is that he lacks the strength to play the position. However, he has worked really hard to gain the size necessary, and learn the blocking techniques needed to play. When Kendrick came into the program, he was labeled as having the most potential amongst the other tight-ends, and the same holds true today. He has shown brief glimpses of excellence, and if he can add a consistant attack, he’ll be a very dangerous weapon this year. In the spring game, Kendrick had 3 receptions for 40 yards, and 1 touchdown.
#86 Jordan Aumiller: The 6’4” 240 lb. junior from Danville, Kentucky has great size and hands to play this position. In high school, he played in five different positions showing the versatility he brings to the Wildcats roster. In 2009, he was redshirted as a linebacker, but came back in 2010 to play in all 13 games, including 8 starts. He was voted to the All-SEC Freshman Team by the coaches. As we have learned, if you can’t block at this position then you will be riding the bench. Blocking is not Aumiller’s strong suit, and for that he began to sit behind a couple of other players in the depth chart. He still has great potential to become a impact player wih improved confidence and blocking ability.
#80 Ronnie Shields: The 6’5” 243 lb. sophomore has had the coaches raving about his potential since he arrived on campus. Not only does he have excellent hands to catch the football, he uses those skills very well as a blocker, too. This guy can stretch the field and be a key asset to the offense. The coaches have said in recent reports that he is the best offensive threat since Jacob Tamme at this position. Robinson hopes that he has proven to the coaching staff that he can handle a more active role. He finished last season with 8 catches for 44 yards, and 1 touchdown, only being bested by the graduated Nick Melillo in the production department. Coach Phillips recently stated that he knows he is asking a lot of his tight-ends, especially Ronnie Shields because he is moving that guy all over the place.
#89 Tyler Robinson: The 6’3” 258 lb. native Tennessean shares the same alma-mater as former UK stand out, and current Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb. Coming into the spring, Robinson has been projected to be the starter at tight-end along with Ronnie Shields. Even though Shields is a greater offensive threat, Robinson will more than likely get the nod for his experience and is currently more of a complete player. Robinson is not speedy, but not very slow either. His game has been described as a battering ram with the football, and a player the coaching staff trusts to not turn the ball over.
The spring game debuted some of the offensive sets with two tight ends. Is it likely that Kentucky will use a dual threat tight end package? No, but it could become somewhat of a common occurence with development. Each player is experienced with no newcomers into the fold for this year. The starter for tight-end has been almost as big of a question as who will start at quarterback. While Joker wants these guys to be major contributors on the blocking front, the players definitely feel that they are in positon to be more in the offensive game plan. Wildcat coaches and players know that an increased involvement with the tight-ends on offense will result in a more complete passing attack.
If you haven’t already, check out the rest of the analysis by our fantastic writers. Each position will be reviewed in depth, and there will be more to come. Stay tuned into StraitPinkie.com for all the analysis for UK and U of L. As always, keep tabs on us as well on Twitter.
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Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP