MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 22: Clive Walford #46 of the Miami Hurricanes makes a catch but is unable to come down inbounds for a touchdown against Jemea Thomas #14 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sun Life Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Miami's tight ends produced 266 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Then again, with Lamar MIller, Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin on the team, the tight ends didn't need to be counted on much. That's going to change in 2012 -- there's practically no choice. There is some potential here, that much is clear. Will the tight ends become key producers this season? That's much less clear.
Let's take a look at how the position is shaking out in 2012.
ASANTE CLEVELAND/ Junior / 6' 5", 260 / Sacramento, Calif.
DYRON DYE/ Junior / 6' 5", 258 / Sanford, Fla.
2011 stats: n/a
Meet the first of Miami's defensive ends-turned-tight ends. Dye came to Miami as a four-star defensive end prospect, but that wasn't working out (and if this Miami team is moving you away from defensive end, it really wasn't working out), so Al Golden and his staff have taken a gamble on his athleticism. Can Dye catch? Who knows, he's never caught a single ball in his career. He was on the field a fair amount last year as a pure blocking tight end, and he'll probably see some time in short yardage sets this season. But with Cleveland healthy, there's a clear one-two amongst Miami's tight ends. Dye is on the outside looking in.
DAVID PERRY/ Soph. / 6' 7", 265 / Pembroke Pines, Fla.
2011 stats: n/a
And here's the second. Perry arrived in Coral Gables as an extreme project at defensive end, but with a size/athleticism combo that you can't teach. Well, defensive end didn't work out -- it's hard to be a six-foot-seven defensive end, and I suspect Perry was never going to be able to get strong enough to overcome the leverage issues that he would deal with as a pass rusher. So, tight end it is. Like Dye, Perry's skills at the position are an utter mystery, and given the talent ahead of him and coming up behind him in 2013, it's hard to imagine Perry making an impact at UM. You can dream on that size, though.
CLIVE WALFORD/ Soph. / 6' 4", 248 / Belle Glade, Fla.
2011 stats: 18 rec., 172 yds, 1 TD
If you asked me which returning player's development heading into 2012 most intrigues me, my answer would probably be Walford. He was another pure gamble by Randy Shannon's old staff, but one that may pay off. Walford showed off in short spurts last year: skying for a touchdown against Florida State, picking up 66 yards against Virginia Tech. But there were too many games were he was nonexistent, and that will hopefully change in 2012. Walford has ideal size and athleticism for the position, but he needs to work on the little things— staying in the game mentally, pushing himself in practice, etc. Oh, there's also one big thing: catching the ball. Walford is truly just scratching the surface of potential that is undeniably there, and Miami needs him to dig deeper.
CORY WHITE/ Junior / 6' 6", 278 / Orange Park, Fla.
2011 stats: n/a
White is an invisible player. He has basically never seen the field at Miami, and at 278 pounds he's certainly not going to be a tight end. But, his cameo as an offensive lineman was also an outright failure, so he's stuck in between two positions that he can't play. This may be his final year at Miami.