After watching Paul Carrezola and D.C. Jefferson perform in spring practice, it’s easy to see why the tight ends should play a major role in Rutgers’ offense in 2010.
Jefferson, a red-shirt sophomore, and Paul Carrezola, a red-shirt freshman, proved they could be excellent players, and definitely eases the burden on the position after Shamar Graves’ eligibility ran out after last season.
The biggest area of growth for Jefferson, a converted quarterback, came in his understanding of what he needs to do to become a factor at tight end. His 6-fot-6, 250-pound frame gives him the size to play the position, but now he knows he must block in order to be effective.
He spent more time in the film room and refined his technique. Although he is not a polished blocker, as the spring concluded, Jefferson’s blocking improved.
Jefferson creates mismatches all over the field in the passing game, with even linebackers having difficulty dealing with his size. But his time was limited because he didn’t change positions until late in training camp, and he had to learn the position while involved in the season.
Jefferson caught five passes for 108 yards, but his potential is off the charts. He showed above average hands in the spring, often catching the ball despite tight coverage.
Carrezola’s spring was strong as well, and he began in a hurry. By the time a few spring practices were complete, his ability to catch the ball, get down the field and find open spaces was evident.
Equally pleasing for the Scarlet Knights was Carrezola’s blocking ability. He understands pad level and has the strength to effectively block in the running game. If not for hamstring and back injuries last season, Carrezola likely would have shed his red-shirt and played as a true freshman.
Another interesting part of the tight end game was the surge by red-shirt freshman Malcolm Bush as spring practice wore on. Bush didn’t get off to a quick start in the spring, but by the end of it his blocking was markedly improved and he was consistent in the passing game.
Evan Lampert was solid in run blocking and proved he was a viable option in short-yardage situations and sophomore Tony Trahan brings versatility to the position because of his ability to get down the field.
In 2009, Graves (14 catches), Jefferson (5) and Traham (2) combined for 21 catches and one touchdown, but the run blocking from the position was always in question. That should not be the case in 2010, where the spring proved tight end should be a position of strength.