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Miami Hurricanes 2021 Position Preview: Tight Ends

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Examining the 2021 tight ends - one of the most storied positions in UM football history

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Bethune-Cookman at Miami
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 14: Miami Hurricanes tight end Larry Hodges (81) celebrates scoring his second touchdown with Miami Hurricanes tight end Will Mallory (85) during the college football game between the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats and the University of Miami Hurricanes on September 14, 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To understand why the tight end position at the University of Miami is held in such high regard, one must understand the history behind it.

Glenn Dennison was one of Bernie Kosar’s favorite targets during Miami’s 1983 championship season.

Willie Smith was the first consensus All-American at the position in Hurricanes history.

Converted tight end Randy Bethel and Rob Chudizinski each played significant roles having caught five touchdowns each in 1988. The two continued to lay the groundwork for players after them in the rich line of tight ends to play at “The U”.

Those greats, along with others who succeeded them in the 1990’s, helped pave the way for players like Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, Greg Olsen, David Njoku and others that made their mark as Hurricanes.

The University of Miami, also known as #NFLU, #RBU, #DBU, #LBU or in this case #TEU, is set on continuing the tradition of great tight end play beginning September 4th in Atlanta, versus the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

Daniel Franks
Daniel “Bubba” Franks, one of several former Miami Hurricanes tight ends drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, caught 12 touchdowns in three seasons at Miami.
Getty Images archive

Last season, Hurricanes players with a minimum of 10 receptions, totaled 2,874 yards and 25 touchdowns off 221 pass catches. Of those, tight ends accounted for 903 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 61 receptions.

With 2021 fifth round NFL draft pick, Brevin Jordan off to the Houston Texans, gone are his 38 receptions, 576 yards, and 7 touchdowns from that total. Also gone are his 26 career games of experience which would go a long way in helping a unit that returns 23 games of experience, 19 by way of Will Mallory.

Florida v Miami
Former Miami Hurricanes tight end Brevin Jordan, seen running with the football in a game versus the Florida Gators in Orlando, Florida during the first game of the 2019 season, was a mismatch in Miami’s favor each time he took the field.

The Returners

Will Mallory, a junior entering his fourth season on the field will be relied on as Miami’s go-to tight end in 2021. Listed at 6’5’’ 245 lbs. he also provides speed to go along with his notable size.

As a senior at Providence School in Jacksonville, Florida, Mallory finished third in the state championship meet posting a time of 14.99 in the 110 meter hurdles. His athleticism is one of many reasons why some consider him to be a better pro prospect than Brevin Jordan.

Mallory has posted 43 career receptions, 659 yards, and seven touchdowns in his 19 game career at Miami. Having played a backup role to Jordan since his freshman year, this is the first season he will be relied upon as a top target.

Mallory’s versatility allows him to be used in multiple sets for the Hurricanes. In a play during the first quarter of last season’s matchup versus the Louisville Cardinals, Mallory had a 74-yard catch and run nullified due to penalty. On that one play, he displayed the concentration, soft hands, speed, and strength that made him one of the most coveted tight ends coming out of high school in 2018.

While talking with tight ends coach Stephen Field, he mentioned how important Miami’s most seasoned tight end is to the team. “He can do everything. He can stretch the field, he’s an extremely hard worker, he got more and more physical at about 255 lbs. He’s put on put on a lot muscle.”

This season should be Mallory’s best as a Hurricane. Expect him to surpass his 22 reception, 329 yard, and four touchdown output from 2020.

Larry Hodges comes into fall camp with a chance to cement his spot on the depth chart as “TE2”, as well as having the opportunity to prove how dynamic he can be in this offense. With a skillset reminiscent of Chris Herndon, Larry Hodges offers the ability to be used as a blocker and a pass catcher coming out of the backfield.

Before making only one catch in six games last season, his two career touchdowns came as a true freshman in a game versus Bethune Cookman. ESPN listed him as the third rated H-back in the 2019 recruiting cycle.

Dominic Mammarelli is a player that coach Field described as “Athletic, but good and physical in the run game.” He participated mostly on special teams last season, contributing with a fumble recovery at Duke. Expect to see Mammarelli in short yardage situations, but anything is possible in a Rhett Lashlee offense. Plays where he starts off as a blocker and ends as a pass catcher may be something to look forward to.

A name to keep an eye on is redshirt junior Michael Parrott, who transferred to Miami after spending the 2017 spring semester at Alabama. Listed as a fullback on the official roster, Parrot is a physical presence whom Field mentioned plenty when bringing up how good of a blocking unit the tight ends can be. Parrott saw lots of action in the spring.

Redshirt freshman Robert Prosek served as a member of the practice squad the past two seasons and will only be called upon in emergency situations.

The “New Guys”

Elijah Arroyo is someone who is expected to be the next great tight end out of Miami. An athlete at the position, having cleared 6’2’’ in the high jump, he also participated in sprints as a track and field athlete at Independence high school.

247sports listed the true freshman at 210 lbs. on his profile. Knowing he needed to add to his 6’4’’ frame, one of Arroyo’s off-season goals was to bulk-up. The University of Miami athletic website currently lists him at 235 lbs.

Arroyo possesses good run-after-catch ability, great leaping skills, and will be a key red-zone target for Miami for years to come. He registered over 1,200 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns in two varsity seasons in high school. As a senior, he caught 28 passes for 635 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Of the 10 signees who played their high school football in Miami-Dade County, Kahlil Brantley was among them. He is another player that can bring versatility to the tight end room with soft hands, great speed after the catch, and he is capable of lining up at multiple spots on the field.

Notice the breakaway speed on display (3:02 mark) as he separates from defensive backs in the clip below. Keep an eye on Brantley and Arroyo as they have the potential of becoming a lethal tight end duo.

The combination of Brantley’s ability to play more than one position while Arroyo acts as a wide receiver in a tight end body, will prove to be one of the more lethal tandems in the nation - especially after an entire year under strength and conditioning coach, David Feeley.

Overview

Miami will continue to use two tights ends on the field as coach Field claimed it is something that is always in their system. With Mallory the clear favorite to start, the attention will turn to who is consistent enough to be Miami’s second tight end.

While the expectation is for Will Mallory’s individual production to increase from last season, the overall production from the unit remains in question. Replacing one of the better tight ends in the nation is never easy, especially one that created so many mismatches like Brevin Jordan.

However with the creativity of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and his ability to scheme players open, combined with the athleticism and physicality in the tight end room, Miami is in a good position to have defenses on their heels.

The elephant in the room when discussing Miami’s tight ends is their experience - Will Mallory must stay healthy for this offense to function at a high level. Behind him, there is not much experience. Larry Hodges enters the season with three career catches, and although Dominic Mammarelli did see action in 10 games, most of it came on special teams.

“That’s why they call us coaches, we have to get everyone ready, and the way we practice, we will.” That was the response given by coach Field when asked how confident he was with the players behind Mallory if he were to miss time.

Continuing the tradition

It is up to the players mentioned above to keep the tight end factory to the NFL going. Below are just some names that helped make Miami #TEU.

Glenn Dennison

Willie Smith

Randy Bethel

Rob Chudizinski

Coleman Bell

Syii Tucker

Mondriel Fulcher

Daniel Bubba Franks

Jeremy Shockey

Kellen Winslow II

Kevin Everett

Dedrick Epps

Jimmy Graham

Clive Walford

David Njoku

Chris Herndon

Brevin Jordan

Who’s next?