In the last of the In Search Of... series we take a look at tight end spot. More specifically the hybrid tight ends that grab extra receptions splitting out wide or take the odd hand-off near the goal line. Since we are talking hybrids it is only fitting our In Search Of... is looking for a cross between two well-known, future College Fantasy Football Hall of Famers, Mark Hafner and James Casey.
In Search Of...the next Casey-Hafner
Hafner was a fine tight end in 2006 and 2007, but became a fantasy owner's dream in 2008 when Houston welcomed in Dana Holgorsen as their offensive coordinator and moved the big fella to the slot. His receptions went from 40 in 2007 to 86 in 2008.
Casey was one of the more unique athletes to ever play college football. Early on Rice wasn't exactly sure what to do with him, trying him out at nearly every position on offense and defense. The Owls finally settled in at tight end/fullback role, where he caught an astounding 111 passes and rushed the ball 57 times in 2008.
Why: The former quarterback is now at tight end, and Reed brings a great deal of athleticism to the position. And with the graduation of Aaron Hernandez -- 102 catches the last two years -- it is a position of need. Reed was used as the infamous Wildcat quarterback this spring, which should make the ears of fantasy owners perk up.
Why Not: Reed didn't exit as the clear #1 tight end this spring, and it is likely we'll see a steady rotation of players until one establishes himself. The quick development of quarterback Trey Burton this spring could also mean the true frosh will be used a Wildcat instead of Reed.
Final Verdict: With Reed at his disposal, Urban Meyer might not be so quick to burn Burton's redshirt. He's also the most athletic tight end of the group and will be given an opportunity to grab the job. He's definitely worth a late-round pick in all types of leagues.
Why: 60 receptions and 10 touchdowns the last two years. It's not Mark Hafner numbers, but it's pretty solid considering the lack of overall tight end production we've seen lately. In an effort to give the lifeless Husker passing offense a shot of adrenaline, McNeill spent the spring working in the slot. Great news right? Well, maybe...
Why Not: McNeill is a league commissioner's nightmare in the making. He's been listed as tight end the last three years, but he's officially listed as a receiver (with tight end listed as his "other position") on Nebraska's official athletic site.
Final Verdict: Let's get real here, McNeill checks in at 235+ pounds and wears #44. I think you can make a solid argument with even the most stubborn commish that McNeill is a tight end (that will play some slot receiver). Hopefully the roster is updated and McNeill is listed as a tight end come August.
Candidate Tracy Moore, Oklahoma State
Why: We highlighted Moore as a hybrid WR/TE when he signed with Oklahoma State in 2009. Receiver and tight end are two of the hardest positions to play as a true freshman, and Moore put up some decent numbers last season. Most notable were his three touchdowns. Big bodies are easy targets in the red zone. Oh and in case you haven't heard, the Pokes bring in the same offensive coordinator that made Hafner famous.
Why Not: We've been watching this one closely and unfortunately, Moore is listed as a IR (inside receiver) on the Cowboy's official roster.
Final Verdict: It is going to be tough pull the wool over your commish's eyes on this one. But I felt obligated to mention him as you just never now how guys are going to be listed in your league. And even as a big receiver, Moore could be worth a late round sleeper pick.
A few other names to remember...
Here are a few more wide receivers that have moved to tight end and vice versa:
Daniel Hardy, Idaho
Nick Melillo, Kentucky
Marcus Green, Mississippi St.
Danny Noble, Toledo
Brett Brackett, Penn St.
Justin Jones, ECU
Kevin Gidrey, ECU