Our own Marsh Thomas recently penned a great article about his top 5 Miami tight ends. You can read his story here. Yup, that’s the iconic photo of Kellen Winslow hurdling over a Tennessee player.
Other notable tight ends to suit up for Miami and an NFL team include Bubba Franks, Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Shockey, and David Njoku, Each of these players on their own might qualify as a perfect Miami tight end.
What attributes would I pick from the best all time to play tight end at Miami? Freakish athleticism, blocking, hands, and swag.
If I were to build the perfect tight end, I’d start with the athletic ability of either Jimmy Graham or David Njoku.
Graham came to the Miami football team via a basketball scholarship. He played sparingly on Miami’s football team for one year. What makes Graham an NFL great is his receiver-like agility. He’s listed as 6’7 and 265 pounds. Nobody his size should be able to hurdle defenders.
Another example of video game worthy athleticism belongs to Cleveland Browns 2nd year man David Njoku. At the NFL combine, he broad jumped 133 inches and had a 37.5 vertical leap. ESPN profiled Njoku on their Sports Science show. This Miami alum has a a nearly 3600 cubic foot catch radius. Njoku can catch anything because of his pure athleticism. Funny that this segment of Sports Science projected that Njoku could some day match Graham in terms of NFL potential.
Every good tight end can block. The great blockers eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Miami has fielded some studs at the point of attack. First off, there are not a lot of exciting videos on the world wide web featuring Miami tight ends blocking (other than Kellen Winslow’s amazing block).
Blockers don’t get any love because they don’t rack up stats outside of pancakes. When the RB scores a touchdown, the offensive line gets the credit. Tight end is a lonely position.
Here are some names from Miami history we don’t remember. These fine men sacrificed stats and notoriety for the sake of the team.
Rob Chudzinski, Coleman Bell, Alfredo Roberts, Syii Tucker, Chris Jones, and Chris Zellner among many others.
In truth, the names we remember when talking about Miami tight ends could all block to varying degrees. My argument is that the players who block the most don’t get enough love.
Hands and YAC
A great tight end possesses hands like Jimmy Graham’s or Greg Olsen’s.
Greg Olsen has been catching one handed balls in the NFL for over a decade. Catch everything. That’s the prime trait of a great tight end.
This is a video of Jimmy Graham catching one -handed touchdowns and leaping over more defenders.
Swag has an ever growing definition. It could mean confidence after a great play or determination after a terrible one. The best tight ends carry this trait of endless optimism. Kellen Winslow’s double block of two Tennessee players might be the most memorable block in school history. A great player regardless of position doesn’t mind selling out his body to make a play.
And on occasion, a player like Kevin Everett gets injured in the worst way. Everett was covering a kick return and nailed the returner hard while playing for Buffalo. It wasn’t a stinger or a concussion. That hit paralyzed him. He ended up walking again, and in this video, receiving the Jimmy V award for perseverance.
Miami has fielded amazing tight ends. That’s why we’re called Tight End U. Taking the best traits from these legends could create a genetically modified super human person capable of crazy things, like playing Tight End in the NFL
He’d be as athletic as Njoku with hands like Jimmy Graham. He might not accumulate eye popping stats in a given game, but still impacts each play through his blocking. Lastly, his swag would mirror that of Kevin Everett when things go bad and have incredible confidence like Kellen Winslow if the play goes according to plan.
Who’s your favorite Canes alum tight end?
Who is your favorite tight end to play at the U?
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