Miami has long been called Tight End U by fans and pundits alike. The ‘Canes produced a number of NFL tight ends over the past few decades including Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, (redacted), Jimmy Graham, David Njoku, and Greg Olsen- just to name a few!
The ‘Canes have always utilized a tight end in their scheme. Whether that was Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson’s pro style attack of the 80’s, Erickson’s 11 personnel ace sets in the 90’s or the Butch Davis / Larry Coker Dallas Cowboys offenses of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. With the amount of lanky but a lil too big to be a receiver dudes Miami seems to haul in, there’s no doubt that Glenn Dennison, Rob Chudzinski, Willie Smith, Alfredo Roberts, Coleman Bell, et al were doing it long before Shockey caught that clutch TD from Ken Dorsey against FSU in 2000.
With Rhett Lashlee coming to Miami, and Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory at the tight end position, I expected big things from the second digit spot. In limited duty for Miami in 2020, Brevin Jordan caught seven touchdowns, Mallory added four more and the position was alive and well again. The oft-injured Jordan has left for the NFL Draft and the one benefit of him being a “Mr. Glass” is that Will Mallory has substantial playing time and starting duty under his belt.
The question is, who will challenge Mallory to improve and who will be the second tight end when Coach Lashlee wants to dial up 12 personnel formations to use length and size against this new influx of “Tite Mint” defenses around college football?
Mallory has the most starting and playing experience of the bunch. The six-foot-five, 245 pound junior out of Providence School in Jacksonville, FL has played in 34 games over three seasons in Coral Gables. Mallory has start 16 games according to the Hurricanes. Over his career, Mallory has caught 43 balls for 659 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 15.3 yards per catch.
With Jordan out of the picture, Mallory is going to have to step up as a consistent threat. He lacks the explosiveness you want in a tight end in the modern era. He’s also a weak blocker both in space and at the point of attack.
For Mallory, his strengths are that he didn’t shy away from big scenarios to make necessary plays in the clutch. Where he had some drops in years past he was more sure handed in 2020. His weaknesses are clearly acceleration, max velocity, and blocking. He runs solid routes and catches the ball in his hands.
Mallory got the b’ness from me in my “You got your block on fire” piece about his weak desire to be an elite blocker.
A redshirt freshman, Larry Hodges came to Miami from Tampa Jesuit as a four-star prospect and has basically been used as a blocker since his arrival. Over two seasons, Hodges has played in ten games, catching three balls for one yard. The six-foot-two, 230 pounder is built more like an old school fullback than a modern day tight end. He could potentially play a ‘specialist’ type role coming in for special formations and in short yardage and goal line situations for Lashlee.
Dominic Mammarelli came to Miami from Naples High School as a four-star prospect. The six-foot-four, 235 pound tight end played in 10 games as a freshman, mostly in the kicking game. He has the potential to be a break out tight end in orange and green. The hope for Mammarelli behind guys like Mallory and Hodges will be that his length is superior to Hodges, and he’ll be a stronger blocker at the point of attack than Mallory.
Elijah Arroyo is a prospect I’m extremely excited about. Arroyo comes to The U from Independence High School in Frisco, TX. The six-foot-four, 220 pound tight end can do it all. His highlight tape is elite and something to be excited about. He has straight line speed, smooth route running, soft hands, and a tenacity in his blocking. The “Tight End U” moniker could be worn proud by Arroyo if he can get schooled up quickly, and not buried behind the seniority system that’s so common at Miami.
I hyped Arroyo a ton in my “Maybe he’s born with it” piece on movement earlier in the winter.
Prosek and Hawkins
Robert Prosek and Davis Hawkins are little know prospects who will be providing depth in 2021. Prosek is a six-foot-four, 235 pounder from Coral Shores High School, while Hawkins is a six-foot-six, 230 pound prospect from IMG in Bradenton, FL.
When challenged for your role, an elite athlete will either shrink or grow. If they shrink, they’ll easily be replaced. If they grow, they’ll dominate. Miami fans need to hope that with Mammarelli, Hodges and Arroyo around- Mallory chooses to grow. Hopefully David Feeley has focused his program on acceleration, max velocity, and visual-coginitive-motor skill development, as well as power output.
If Miami wants to win the steeple chase they should continue the 300’s, 110’s and mat drills. If they’re looking to win football games- focus on being the fastest, and quickest visual to cognitive to motor development team in the nation.
2021 Starter: Will Mallory
2021 next man in: Elijah Arroyo
G5 by 2022: Larry Hodges.