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Miami Hurricanes Football 2016 Position Preview: Tight Ends

As the 2015 season draws near, the 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.

Bethune-Cookman v Miami
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 5: Standish Dobard celebrates after scoring a first quarter touchdown against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on September 5, 2015 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes are loaded at tight end heading into the 2016 football season. This group boasts strong, physical, agile, and dynamic receiving targets. The three-pronged attack of Standish Dobard, David Njoku, and Christopher Herndon IV have plenty of game experience under their belts. As Head Coach Mark Richt implements his offensive system, the tight ends will prove to be a crucial part for success this upcoming season.

Let’s talk about experience

Standish Dobard, David Njoku, and Christopher Herndon have all logged plenty of playing time for the Hurricanes over the last few seasons. Standish Dobard, the senior leader of the group, leads all tight ends in starts and play counts. But while the other two, David Njoku and Christopher Herndon, lack years of experience, they make up for it in production.

As a redshirt freshman, David Njoku saw action in all 13 games for the Hurricanes. He had 21 receptions for 362 yards in 2015 and led all receivers with a 17.2 yards-per-catch average.

Christopher Herndon registered playing time as a freshman, but recorded no stats. In his sophomore year, Herndon was used heavily, appearing in all 13 games and making three starts. Herndon amassed 237 receiving yards on 18 receptions in 2015.

Incoming tight ends

Unfortunately for the young guys, the three aforementioned tight ends will absorb the majority of playing time these next few seasons. These players look to either redshirt or participate on special teams in 2016 for the Hurricanes, but have significant talent of their own that’ll be seen in the coming years.

Jovani Haskins – 6-foot-4, 235 pounds – 3-star athlete, per 247Sports – Bergenfield High School, Bergenfield, New Jersey

Jovani Haskins played quarterback in high school but looks to project best as a wide receiver or tight end at the collegiate level. His size is crucial to the Hurricanes with many receivers hovering around 6-foot, and he showed good physical ability while playing quarterback in high school. Haskins arrived in Coral Gables on June 27.

Michael Irvin Jr. – 6-foot-3, 220 pounds – 3-star TE, per 247Sports – St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Playmaker Jr. comes to Miami via South Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas. While being compared to his father creates lofty, and possibly unrealistic expectations, this only helps Michael Irvin Jr. See, he doesn’t just want to fill his dad’s shoes, these comparisons have given him a chip on his shoulder. He wants out of his dad’s shadow – and he really wants to cast a bigger one of his own. Michael Irvin Jr. is a big, strong tight end, but he has physical ability as well. For Miami, coming out of high school, Michael Irvin Jr. is a solid choice at tight end. Irvin Jr. arrived in Coral Gables on May 16.

Having dynamic receiving threats at tight end is a beautiful thing

For the 2016 football season, the Hurricanes tight ends boast a wealth of talent that hasn’t been seen at the position since the early 2000s. Each player brings exclusive traits, and each trait will prove vital to the Hurricanes offense.

Standish Dobard is the prototypical big-bodied tight end. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 265, he has the size and strength to create missed tackles while offering a large receiving target for quarterback Brad Kaaya. This offseason, with a new coaching staff that includes head strength and conditioning coach Gus Felder, Dobard has shed unwanted weight, but kept his strength. He was mentioned by Felder as being one of the hardest workers in the weight room. Entering his senior year, Standish Dobard is readying body, he has the experience, and with a new coaching staff and offensive outlook, looks to surpass his previous totals – 16 receptions for 252 yards and one touchdown.

David Njoku doesn’t need our hype – he’s a talented, versatile and dynamic receiving threat. Njoku can line up as a traditional tight end as well as out wide or in the slot. Regardless of where he is on the field, he’s a strong, fast runner, making him an ideal receiving target.

In State of the U’s earlier tight end breakdown, we dubbed Christopher Herndon the "tight end renaissance man", and that holds true today. Herndon has great speed for a tight end. This allows the offense to be versatile in its positioning of Herndon on the field, whether that be at tight end, H-back, fullback or slot receiver. Herndon, like David Njoku, is young and came on strong at the tail end of 2015.

In 2016, with each tight end option offering a variety of positional choices, coverage mismatches, and extra blocking, snaps will be split depending on scheme and opponent. Barring injury, each of the big three — Standish Dobard, David Njoku and Christopher Herndon IV — will play a significant role. The tight ends pack talent, experience, and depth, and may be one of the strongest position groups on the Hurricanes offense.