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2014 Tight End Review

The tight end position last year for the Cards was good enough to see Gerald Christian selected as the last pick in the 2015 NFL Draft as “Mr. Irrelevant”.  Gerald hauled in 32 catches for 384 yards and 5 TDs (tied for 1st), but I think it is safe to say that the Cards and Bobby Petrino want to see more out of its TE spot moving forward.  Christian with Teddy Bridgewater actually had fewer catches but more yards in 2013 (28, 426 and 4 TDs), and prior to 2015 Gerald was quoted as saying that he expected to catch 100 passes in the Louisville Offense.  In fact, despite putting Christian & Cameron Graham (2009-10) into the NFL, Louisville hasn’t had stellar performance at the Tight End position since Gary Barnidge (2004-2007).  Knowing Petrino, that is not likely to remain the same in the future.

Louisville also had nice seasons from Keith Towbridge (9 catches, 107 yards) and Charles Standberry (7 catches 57 yards & 2 TDs).  It was clear that Petrino wanted to do more but was limited in his offense and really scaled back the playbook that Cardinal fans had seen previously.  Still Towbridge played A LOT and did well in the blocking schemes and even made a terrific play on special teams vs. Notre Dame.  Standberry caught the 1st TD of the year for UofL to get things started vs. Miami and also got a critical play call in the 4th quarter vs. Florida State on a deception route that could have netted the Cards a 1st down and led to a game-winning drive.  That ball went off his fingers on a tough ball from Will Gardner and Florida St. scored on to push the lead to 11. But a true freshman getting that call in that situation says a lot about Petrino’s offense in Standberry.

Players Lost

Gerald Christian (32 catches, 384 yards, and 5 TDs)
Charles Standberry (moved to WR – will be used as TE situationally in 2015)

2015 Numerical Roster
#18 Cole Hikutini 6-5, 240 Jr.
#42 Tyler Polston 6-2, 240 Soph
#44 Paul Logsdon 6-3 210 Soph
#80 Charles Standberry 6-3 226 Soph. (also listing at WR)
#83 Micky Crum 6-4, 257 RS Fr.
#89 Keith Towbridge 6-5, 261 Jr.

Projected Depth Chart
Cole Hikutini
Keith Towbridge
Micky Crum
Charles Standberry (situational)
Tyler Polston
Paul Logsdon

Cole Hikutini

Examining the 2015 Group

The projection for Cole Hikutini as the #1 Tight End is based entirely on information from people inside the program and given the fact that he’s a new player he’s also my Wild Card.  Multiple individuals that TheCrunchZone has spoken with really think that Cole could be an elite tight end at UofL after transferring from CCSF junior college after beginning his career at FCS Sacramento State.  Hikutini’s impact with the Sac State Hornets (9 games, 21 receptions, 4 TDs) and moved on to City College of San Francisco to try his hand at the FBS level where he notched 40 catches for 658 yards and 4 TDs in a high-level junior college league. Hikutini is a West Coast guy from Pleasant Grove HS and his initial choice to go to Sacramento State might have been just enough to keep him under the radar for the Cards to land him from under the nose of the west coast FBS programs.

Don’t count Keith Towbridge here. Towbridge is coming off a foot injury (exactly like DeVante Parker’s) and should be ready for Fall Camp when it begins next week. Hikutini was impressing before leaving Spring Practice with an injury as well, but despite the injuries both Towbridge and Hikutini are players who have a lot of talent.  Not to mention the fact that Towbridge has been a Cardinal now going on his 3rd year and Cole joined the program in January.  There should be no culture shocks for either going into fall camp.  Towbridge probably figures more in the passing game in 2015, especially with the emphasis that Bobby Petrino spoke about at ACC Kickoff getting Reggie Bonnafon to sometimes use the check down (or take off and run).  Towbridge provides the safety of a big target and also can be very physical all over the football field.

The question for the TE position is what kind of depth do the Cards have after moving Charles Standberry over to WR (he’ll still be in some situational TE scenarios.  Micky Crum redshirted in 2015 after coming to the Cards from Columbus, OH and Hamilton Township HS.  At Hamilton Township, Micky played just about every position on the field for 3-years and is reportedly a workout freak with an extremely low amount of body fat for someone who is 6’4, 257.  Crum (what a great last name for a Cardinal) is your best candidate for depth at tight end, also expect for Micky to make an impact on special teams given his athletic ability. In practice, Micky has shown the ability to split defenders and make catches over the middle.  Micky is an exciting player that will make his debut in 2015. Behind Crum are walk-ons Tyler Polston from Louisville St. Xavier and Paul Logsdon from Louisville Butler.

Louisville probably needs one more tight end to really feel good about its depth at the tight end spot, but the versatility of Charles Standberry makes the depth issue more tolerable for 2015.  If the Louisville offense is going to move forward this year it needs to get more production from its tight end group. Cole Hikutini, Keith Towbridge, and Micky Crum are a nice foundation to build around, especially with the other skill players on offense.  This is a talented group that needs to perform on the field in 2015.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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