As UM football continues to slog towards Chestnut Hill, we here at the 7th Floor will breakdown each position group on the team. Today we look at the tight ends. If any position group is going to turn potential into production— in the process boosting Miami's win-loss record beyond what most think— it could be the tight ends.
Previous previews: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
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.
2011 stats: 1 rec., 6 yds
Cleveland made only eight catches in 2010, but they went for a total of 110 yards. It was an incredibly small sample size, but he showed the potential to be a big play tight end, someone who could maybe dominate the middle of the field and stretch defenses. His 2011, unfortunately, was more or less lost to injury, so all we're left with heading into this season are those distant memories of his freshman season. He's atop the depth chart at tight end at the moment, and that's encouraging for a big, fleet-footed player who certainly could turn a two-star recruiting rating into a spot in the NFL Draft. We'll see if he can put it together this year.
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.