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Countdown to Miami Hurricanes Football 2015: Previewing the Tight Ends

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As the 2015 season draws near, State of the U breaks down each position on the field for you player by player, so you can go into game one knowing the team as best you can.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami will open the season in the not so distant future, and to help you prepare for what is sure to be a great year, we are back to preview each position on the team. We will let you know who is back, who is new, and how each player projects for the 2015 season.

Before being selected as the No. 68 overall NFL Draft pick by the Oakland Raiders, Clive Walford surpassed his earlier totals at Miami by a wide margin in his senior year. Accounting for 676 yards of the 833 total for Hurricanes tight ends, he elevated his profile and was named a Mackey Award Finalist as one of the best tight ends in the nation. Clive set the bar high for his replacement. His progression over the years has created a standard at the position that was lacking before his arrival.

Tight end progression

Year

2010

*2011

2012

2013

2014

Total yards receiving

236

266

511

586

833

*Denotes Al Golden's first year as Head Coach and Clive Walford's freshman year.

Depth Chart

Starter

Standish Dobard

6'4" 262lbs

Junior

Backup

Jake O'Donnell

6'6" 258lbs

Junior

Christopher Herndon

6'4" 255lbs

Sophomore

David Njoku

6'4" 240lbs

RS Freshman

Jerome Washington

6'5" 262lbs

RS Freshman

That Louisiana

Standish Dobard arrived in Coral Gables as a 4-star recruit, per 247Sports. Having mentored under Clive Walford, and appearing in all 13 games and registering four starts in 2014, he's primed to take on the starting role.

Standing 6'4" and weighing 262, he provides muscle to an offense rich with speed and versatility. A key difference between Dobard and Clive Walford, that's sure to change the way we view the position this upcoming year, is his reliance on power over finesse. Frequently during his junior year, Standish barreled into contact and shredded defenders for more yardage.

While covering the squad these past few seasons, State of the U's Dorseyitis watched the rise of Dobard and saw firsthand the impact of the newer players this Spring. He'll be joining us to offer his thoughts on the tight ends' progression.

Dorseyitis on Standish Dobard: I like him as the starter. He's the best blocker of the group. One of the younger guys may come in and provide a better receiving option on occasion, but Dobard seems to be the leader at this point.

He has the strength to carry defenders, but if he can't hold onto the ball, his time on the field will be limited.

Seeing the differences between last year and this Spring, his hands improved as a receiver and he runs a touch faster. With the way our offensive line looks early, he may be relied on as a blocker in passing situations.

Production wise, it's likely he'll be a let down from Clive, but that's a tough comparison as Walford was one of the best tight ends in the nation in 2014. With Brad Kaaya being more confident in the playbook, he may not get as many targets as Walford had.

Coverage Nightmares

There's a different breed of tight ends vying for playing time this upcoming season. While Standish Dobard is of a physical, Bubba Franks-like nature, and doesn't show Walford's versatility, two young players bring a new dynamic to the Miami offense. You've seen their highlights (listed below) and heard the chatter of specialized packages they may require.

Christopher Herndon

Chris Herndon saw action in three games as a freshman, but registered no stats. His weight is getting better, and as he works on his blocking, could earn significant playing time. The staff has played with his position this past Spring, labeling him as the starting fullback, and H-back, besides his recruited position of tight end. This stresses the importance of Herndon as a blocker. HS highlights.

Dorseyitis on Chris Herndon: If you scanned through every practice interview, you'd get the impression that Herndon is really making strides.

David Njoku

David Njoku brings the most versatility to the group. If you're feeling adventurous, you can line him up at whatever receiving position you like (or linebacker, H-back, whatever, really). That dynamic will pay dividends as he grows at Miami. After redshirting his freshman year, you may find him in designed packages early on for the 'Canes. If he finds success then, he'll see usage against top opponents. HS highlights.

Top Reserves

Jake O'Donnell

Originally committing to Miami to play at defensive end, Jake O'Donnell has volleyed around the Hurricanes' depth chart to his final placement on the offense. As he continues to progress at the position, he provides great size for run blocking and goal line situations. Don't expect to see him in the receiving game too often, but he can offer much needed support to the offensive line off the bench. In 2014, Jake O'Donnell made five appearances and recorded his first career catch against North Carolina.

Dorseyitis on Jake O'Donnell: He's the biggest body. Possibly a goal line guy.

Jerome Washington

Jerome Washington arrives with four years to play and a wealth of potential. After enrolling in the Spring, he hit the ground running, digesting the playbook and using his physical gifts, and is making a strong argument for playing time. Highlights.

Dorseyitis: Washington looked like the most athletic of the group in Spring. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's him or Herndon as the second tight end. He's still adjusting to the team and is a raw prospect, but is showing great potential.

Overall Analysis

Importance weighs heavily on this position as it'll be tasked with assisting the offensive line and giving Brad Kaaya a safety valve in the passing game. Clive Walford's totals need not be matched for this group to be successful. However, for them to have a chance, it'll take a collective effort.

What's needed from Standish Dobard is reliability. That's something you can't stress enough. There's reason for excitement with the younger players. If a newcomer or two can make an impact, his load will be significantly lighter. They won't be world-beaters at the start. With little experience under Dobard, there may be aches and pains along the way. This group must be ready to contribute in both pass blocking and run. Much of its success, during Fall camp and into the year, will be determined by effort in the trenches.

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Stay tuned for more player profiles as we countdown to kickoff on September 5th