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With David Njoku off to the NFL, Christopher Herndon IV has big shoes to fill

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After being praised by coaches this Spring, Christopher Herndon IV must make noise at the tight end position in 2017.

Russell Athletic Bowl - Miami v West Virginia Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After finishing second on the team in receptions and third on the team in receiving yards, David Njoku pushed himself into the national spotlight.

With incredible measurables and an impressive combine, Njoku moved his way into the first round and was selected by the Cleveland Browns. But while Njoku departs to Ohio, a hole of production is left in Coral Gables.

Miami v Appalachian State
Christopher Herndon IV flourished as Miami’s second tight end behind David Njoku last season, but will have a larger role in 2017.
Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images

Enter Christopher Herndon IV -- a senior tight end looking to step up as a leader.

“I just have to step it up more,” Herndon said. “Help the young guys get acclimated and bring them along.”

Beyond helping the young players, however, Herndon is looking to carve out a large role for himself in 2017. Herndon has been a swiss army knife throughout his career playing several positions, and he is expected to be the number one tight end next season.

The 6’4” 252 pound target reeled in 334 yards on 28 receptions last year, and made his way into the end zone twice. Although that was good production for Herndon last season as a number two tight end, more will be expected from him in 2017.

“He has always been a great pass catcher in my mind, he’s just kinda been overshadowed by 86 back there,” tight ends coach Todd Hartley said this Spring. “Herndon is an unbelievable football player, just because he is so versatile in what he can do.”

Hartley said Herndon is the type of player who can line up and play in the slot, be an elite positional tight end, and “hold his own” at fullback.

That versatility has been on display throughout his first three years on campus, and a play like the one below flashes his ability to receive the football.

If Herndon becomes the consistent receiver coaches believe he will be this season, he can help take the offense to another level with his blocking ability (which is displayed on this touchdown run; Herndon is lined up to the left).

The ‘Canes have two four star tight ends in the class of 2018 (Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory), and the future of depth at the position looks bright.

But with Miami being labeled a dark horse in the ACC this offseason, the Hurricanes will need Herndon to take his consistency into a larger role for the offense to be successful.