With August training camp just a week away we continue on with our Texas A&M position previews in the Countdown to 2009 with tight ends. Entering the 2008 season, the Aggies were experimenting with Jamie McCoy at the position. It was a success, and now McCoy is back for his senior year.
A&M is in good hands at tight end with McCoy leading the way, but after the senior is a jumbled mess that has to be figured out in August camp. Gone are Avery and Turnage who both left the program in the offseason while K.J. Williams made the move from tight end to defensive end. After moving to jack in the spring, former tight end/linebacker Billy Chavis also left the team. Also, Michael Ebbitt's experience at tight end is over as he has moved back to defensive end and Ben Bass made the move to defensive tackle in the spring before leaving the program due to academic issues.
So behind McCoy is two converted defensive backs - Brown and Furtch. Who will step up in camp is anyone's guess, but both are undersized much like McCoy was a year ago. The wildcard in the tight end dilemma is Prioleau. The true freshman has the size, the talent and the intangibles to make an immediate impact behind McCoy, but how quickly will he pick up the position?
The answer may very well make a huge impact on the 2009 season, especially if an injury were to befall McCoy.
McCoy has bounced around from position to position starting out as a quarterback and then moving to receiver, but it seems that he has found a fit at tight end and it's been a great situation for the Aggies. In 2008, his first season at the position, McCoy quickly took over the starting job even though he was undersized for the position. Always a threat in the open field, blocking was his setback.
In the spring, however, McCoy put on the weight that he used to work so hard to take off as a receiver and all of a sudden has the size to be a solid tight end in 2009. After catching 43 passes for 500 yards with five touchdowns, McCoy is poised to have another great year as an offensive threat. The difference is that now he has the size to hold his own blocking on the line.
Brown has been moved around throughout his Aggie career from receiver to defensive back to receiver once again and now will be moving to tight end. The move is eerily similar to the one McCoy made a year ago as Brown is 6-3 and 207 pounds and is basically undersized, but has the ability to be a threat in the passing game.
Whether Brown is effective this season will mostly be due to his ability to add weight to make an impact on the line, but otherwise he should be able to definitely make an impact in the passing game on passing downs.
Prioleau has the size at 6-4 and 243 pounds and the athletic ability to be an outstanding tight end in college. Don't be surprised to see Prioleau backing up McCoy and playing a lot in two-tight end sets with both him and McCoy being threats in the passing game.
But there are two schools of thought here. Play Prioleau with the idea that he'll gain valuable experience as McCoy's understudy, or redshirt him in the hope that he gives four years of plentiful playing time. August camp will go a long way in determining which route the Aggies take with Prioleau.
McCoy is far and away the starter at tight end, and everything behind him right now is a jumbled mess. But as long as McCoy is healthy, the Aggies are in good hands especially with his increase in weight in order to block on the line.
Head coach Mike Sherman loves to use the tight end in his offense and McCoy fits the bill perfectly. He'll play a bigger role as a pass catching threat in 2009 just for the fact that opposing defenses will have to pay much more attention to A&M's receivers, namely Jeff Fuller. With the Aggies using McCoy up the middle and on delays, expect to see Johnson check down to a wide open McCoy a lot in 2009.
Tight End Coach Kirk Doll: At A Glance
Age: 58 College: East Carolina '74, Wichita State '76 Experience: 34 years A&M Tenure: Second season, Coached LBs from 1988-93 Career Highlights: Has coached at three levels after coaching at Texas City High School, numerous colleges including A&M, Notre Dame and LSU, and in the NFL. Players of Note: Quentin Coryatt, Dana Batiste, Aaron Wallace, William Thomas, Marcus Buckley
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