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Miami Hurricanes 2022 Spring Position Preview: Tight Ends

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With all production from the tight end position returning in 2022 and coach Stephen Field being retained, the position group is in a position to make a leap.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The tight end position may not have lived up to the Miami Hurricanes standard for the position in 2021, but with all the receiving production from a year ago returning as well as star quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, the position could be a strength in 2022.

The group is headlined by senior Will Mallory but also has some young faces that should play a bigger role in a new offense. Tight ends coach Stephen Field is reportedly being kept on in the same position, so the tight ends won’t have a completely new offensive staff in 2022.

With Josh Gattis taking over as the offensive coordinator under head coach Mario Cristobal, the tight ends could be highly featured with the Michigan offense using the starting tight end, Erick Ali, quite a bit, finishing second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.

Field isn’t the only coach on staff to coach the position throughout their career. Cristobal has coached the position at Rutgers and Miami early in his career. Offensive Line coach Alex Mirabal also coached tight ends when he worked under Cristobal at Florida International.

The Hurricanes had six tight ends on their roster in 2021, and most of them will return this season for spring practice with just one leaving in the transfer portal. Larry Hodges, who didn’t catch any passes in five games during the 2021 season, entered the transfer portal in February.

The tight end room will consist of five returning players as well as one new face coming out of high school.

Returning Starter

Will Mallory

A four-star recruit out of high school in 2018, Mallory joined Miami along with Brevin Jordan. In his first three seasons, it was Jordan who received a bulk of the reps at tight end.

He was used sparingly as a receiver during his first two seasons on campus, catching 21 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. In his third season on campus, he took a big leap, catching 22 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns.

In his first season as the starting tight end after Jordan left for the NFL, Mallory had a season of ups and downs. He struggled to begin the season, catching just 10 passes for 75 yards and no touchdowns through five games.

When Van Dyke and the offense started humming though, Mallory was a big part of that. He caught a touchdown in four of the final six games of the season and also had at least three catches in all six of those games as well.

He finished the year with 30 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns. His season wasn’t defined by the plays he made though, but the ones he didn’t. During the week three matchup against Michigan State, Mallory dropped a pass in the endzone that would have put the Hurricanes up 17-3. Instead, they would settle for a field goal, which they would miss.

But with his struggles, he has also made a lot of big plays over the last two seasons due to his incredible speed for the position. Mallory is a matchup nightmare for slower linebackers, but also smaller safeties.

On a play that would be called back, Mallory creates separation up the seam for an easy catch but then is too big to bring down and runs too fast to be caught from behind until the 10-yard line.

This play showed how he can use his athleticism to hurt defenses, making moves around guys who are not only smaller but less athletic.

Another great play from Mallory that was called back due to a penalty, he again shows his athleticism. After faking as a blocker, runs up the sideline, turns and goes up higher than the defender can reach, and makes a nice hands catch. An ability many large tight ends may never be able to make at the college level, he then turns up the field and breaks through two tackles. He then outruns three more Virginia Tech defensive backs to find the endzone.

Though Mallory, like many receivers over the last two seasons, has had his issues with holding onto the ball, he is a huge threat to defenses with his size and speed. He has been used a lot on play-action as a deep threat due to his ability to run past linebackers, and that has been with a struggling rushing attack. If the coaching staff can help improve the ground game, look for Mallory to take advantage a lot more.

Back-up

Elijah Arroyo

The seventh-ranked tight end in the class of 2021, Elijah Arroyo was a huge addition for Miami with Jordan leaving a year early for the NFL. Though he wasn’t given too many opportunities to catch passes in his first season, Arroyo took advantage of the ones he did get.

He caught a single pass in five games last season, finishing with five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. His lone touchdown came in a win over Pittsburgh on a 20-yard dart from Van Dyke.

In a two-tight end formation, Arroyo runs a post on the outside while Mallory runs a corner route from the inside. The defense gets confused in coverage and doesn’t switch properly, leaving Arroyo wide open in the endzone.

The ability to use a formation with two tight ends could be extremely helpful to the running game if both Mallory and Arroyo can also stretch the defense while being solid blockers.

Other Returners

Unless any of these players make a huge leap, don’t expect much on offense from these younger players. With the top two players at the position returning, likely, these players will just add depth and play on special teams. Under a new coaching staff, they may fit better into what the coaches are looking for, but it isn’t likely.

Kahlil Brantley

A three-star recruit out of high school, Kahlil Brantley added depth with Arroyo to the tight end position for the 2021 recruiting cycle. He played in just one game throughout his freshman season, catching one pass for seven yards against Central Connecticut State.

Dominic Mammarelli

Another three-star recruit, Mammarelli has the size to be useful. Through two seasons with the Hurricanes, he has seen the field sparingly. During his first year in Miami, he appeared in 10 games, mostly on special teams. He didn’t appear in any games during the 2021 season.

Robert Prosek

A member of the practice squad, Robert Prosek has not seen any game action through three seasons with the team.

Newcomers

Jaleel Skinner

As the lone tight end recruit in the 2022 cycle for the Hurricanes, Jaleel Skinner makes up for that by being one of the top players at his position. Rated as the third tight end in the country, Skinner has the obvious tools that could help him become the next great Miami tight end.

At 6-foot-5-inches, he has the height and wingspan that could be used immediately. Combined with Arroyo, the Hurricanes are set at the position moving forward when Mallory is gone.

Maybe the most important thing to note about Skinner is that he enrolled in January. Even though he is tall, he was only listed at 215 pounds, pretty light for the position. But getting on campus and into the Miami strength and conditioning program will help him get on the field much sooner.

Skinner committed to Alabama in October of 2021 but flipped to the Hurricanes on early signing day just two months later.

Skinner looks pretty thin, but he moves extremely well and has the length that can’t be taught. Don’t be surprised if he has some impressive highlights during spring practices and forces his way onto the field in 2022.