Spring Preview: Tight Ends

Middleton must step up in 2010

In part five of our spring preview series, we take a look at the tight end position where Washington was once hurting for bodies and now it appears there is a logjam of talent. Here's a look at who to watch and what players need to step up during the spring in order to see significant time this fall…

The Players: Jr. Kavario Middleton; Sr. Dorson Boyce; Jr. Chris Izbicki; RS Fr. Marlion Barnett

The Questions: Will Middleton realize his vast potential and become the player many expected him to be coming out of high school? Will Izbicki see a more significant role this fall? How much size has Barnett added since he arrived last July?

Middleton and Izbicki could be a great combination if they just showed more consistency.

One of the biggest knocks on Middleton since he was in high school was his lack of intensity and, while it improved during his sophomore season, things need to get drastically better in 2010 or he could see his number of snaps decrease.

Izbicki is a solid blocker, but he needs to improve as a receiver. He seemed to find a comfort level with the offense early in the year and even caught a touchdown pass against Idaho, but he was rarely a target in the passing game as the season progressed.

While both have their weaknesses, they both could be big-time contributors in this offense if they are able to take what the coaches have been teaching them to heart.

When he signed with Washington, it appeared Boyce would see a majority of his time as a blocker, able to seal the edge so that running backs could bounce things outside if necessary. However, we saw only glimpses of that last fall in goal line sets and he did contribute immensely on special teams as well.

Barnett looked like a big receiver when he arrived at Montlake this past summer, weighing in at just 215 pounds. He needs to be much bigger and get stronger in order for Washington to use him the way they'd like. Expect them to get the ball into his hands at different times like they did with Fred Davis when he was an undersized tight end at USC. He has soft hands and enough speed to threaten the deep middle of the defense and how he performs this spring will help determine how much playing time he gets in the fall.

As the season progressed the coaches became increasingly frustrated with the lack of production from this position and they will do whatever it takes to improve, including playing incoming freshman Michael Hartvigson, who brings with him a wealth of size, talent and intensity.

The staff has been working hard to add different weapons to this unit and it seems they are close to finding a nice combination of size, speed and athleticism. Now those pieces need to come together and realize their full potential, or be left in the dust as the team moves forward


Other position previews...

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Spring Preview: Offensive Line
Spring Preview: Running Backs
Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

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