Previous Position Previews
2013 Tight End Review
Louisville Tight Ends had an “OK” season in 2013. The group as a receiving unit hauled in 43 catches for 666 yards and 4 Touchdowns. Gerald Christian and Ryan Hubbell had 99% of that production, and as a blocking unit there was certainly room for improvement. Zeke Pike and Ryan Hubbell have left the program (Hubbell through graduation), and Keith Towbridge played an increasing role as the season went on as a true freshman. Louisville didn’t use the Tight End nearly as much under Shawn Watson as fans would have liked, but the group did have big plays throughout the season. They just were not frequent.
2014 Tight End Preview Coaches & Roster
Bobby Petrino likes to use Tight Ends in both the passing and running game. Cardinal Fans may remember names like Ronnie Ghent, Richard Owens, Adam McCauley, Gary Barnidge, and Breno Giacomini from Petrino’s previous tenure. Coach Petrino uses a lot of deception at the position, creates situations where the defense must spread because of the TEs, and also demands a great deal in blocking schemes out of his tight ends. To help teach the 2014 group, Coach Petrino has brought in former Cardinal Tight End Pete Nochta who was with Western Kentucky last season.
Louisville needs more bodies at Tight End. The Cards have just 4 players on the roster which puts a great deal of pressure on the 4 TEs during Fall Camp and creates a shaky depth picture for the unit. Thin depth or not, however, this group has TALENT.
Highlighting the group, Gerald Christian (6-3, 244, RS-Sr.) looks to have a tremendous year. Last year I believed that Gerald would be one and done at UofL after transferring from Florida. It didn’t work out that way, but this offense is PRIMED for a playmaker like Gerald Christian. Christian caught 28 passes for 426 yards and 4 Touchdowns in 2014, including a 69-yarder. Christian is solidly the #1 Tight End on this Louisville team and has a stated goal of 100 catches in 2014. 100 catches is likely a long shot since only Arnold Jackson is the only Cardinal to ever break that mark with 101 catches in 1999, but I like Christian’s optimism in the offense getting him the ball. Christian also has the frame to be a very good blocker in this offense, and the Cards will rely on him in the running game to crash down and seal the corner, or lead the way. Gerald is a next-level talent that will certainly play in the NFL, he just needs to put as much on tape during 2014 as possible. Gerald was the #3 Tight End in the Nation in the 2010 class and signed with Florida over Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and WVU and is a former U.S. Army All-American.
Louisville is certainly going need more than one Tight End and Keith Towbridge (6-5, 266, Soph) fits the bill perfectly. Towbridge is a different type of Tight End than Gerald, but he also possesses a great deal of athleticism on his large frame. Towbridge played an increasing role during 2013 as the staff became more and more comfortable with his game. Even though he did not register a catch 2013, fans should know that Keith absolutely will be a part of the passing offense as his hands are much improved from his high school film. But make no mistake, Keith’s value at the tight end position comes from his ability to block and the intangibles of the position. Towbridge signed with the Cards in the 2012 class over Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Purdue, among others.
Micky Crum (6-5, 250, Fr.) is likely to see significant time on the field this season for the Cards. Crum comes to Louisville from Hamilton Township HS in Columbus, OH and was a do-it-all type of player for his school. From Tight End, Quarterback, Defensive End, and WRESTLER Crum is a big-bodied athlete with a sculpted frame that is a little unusual for true freshman. Louisville has just 4 Tight Ends, and I do expect that Crum will play this season particularly in goal-line and special team situations. Micky chose Louisville over Illinois and is an all-around Tight End that will probably grow by about 15-20 lbs over his tenure at the school. I’m excited to see what type of player Crum will turn into, sky is the limit.
Charles Standberry (6-3, 216) is the play-making type of Tight End Louisville fans are used to seeing. Standberry right now is an obvious pass-catching Tight End that really needs to add size in order to seriously compete for a tight end in the traditional sense. As it is now, Standberry would have to split wide and operate out of the slot mainly to see the field and special teams. But we’ve seen Bobby Petrino do that before and early in Fall Camp it is obvious that Charles’ pass-catching ability is off-the-charts. Standberry will find his way onto the field and chose Louisville after a previous commitment to Ole Miss, and offers from Boise State, Mississippi State, and others.
Given Bobby Petrino’s track record with Tight Ends you can bet that this group is going to develop. Gerald Christian is going to have a big season and the 3 young Tight Ends certainly have a bright future as well. But this position needs depth. If a High School prospect does his homework, there is no better place for a high-level tight end than a Bobby Petrino offense.
My Projected Depth Chart
1) Gerald Christian
2) Keith Towbridge
3) Micky Crum OR
4) Charles Standberry
2015 NFL Draft Possibles: Gerald Christian
2015 Roster Expected Available: Keith Towbridge, Micky Crum, Charles Standberry
2016 Roster Expected Available: Keith Towbridge, Micky Crum, Charles Standberry
2017 Roster Expected Available: Micky Crum, Charles Standberry
2018 Roster Expected Available: Micky Crum (if redshirted not expected), Charles Standberry (if redshirted not expected)
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