The 2011 Offense Part 3

Senior tight end Luke Stocker was expected to contribute as a major role player for the Vols offense during the 2010 season and before the season even began he was being called one of the best tight ends in the nation. Stocker but up some good numbers his junior year and the hope was that would carry over to the 2010 season. Luckily for Vol fans the majority of those numbers did just that. With an extremely young offensive line, Quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Matt Simms relied on Stocker for extra blocking a lot as well as a consistent option for short passes to get rid of the ball. However with at least 6 passes over 15 yards Stocker proved he can go down the field and get the ball.

Year

Games Played Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns Average per Game
2010 12 34 359 10.6 1

29.9

2009

13 29 389 13.4 5 29.9
2008 12 13 139 10.7 0

11.6

2007

14 4 11 2.8 1 .8

2006 Season Redshirt

Rivals: *** #33 TE, #7 KY

Recruiting 2006 Scout: *** #34 TE

Game Stats are from http://www.utsports.com

Stocker should get drafted in April’s NFL draft, more than likely on the second day in either the 3rd or 4th rounds. If he impresses at the combine or senior day, he could sneak into the 2nd round but that is unlikely. CBS Sports has him as the 3rd best tight end in this year’s draft.  Unfortunately, like his fellow senior wide receivers, Stocker has run out of eligibility and will be moving on. The Vols are pretty unproven behind Stocker but this is how the position is looking at this early date…

Returning Players

Rising Junior Mychal Rivera is the early favorite to start at tight end for the Vols in 2011. Having seen action in every game this season as Stocker’s primary back up, Rivera has crucial game experience that the other tight ends on the roster simply do not have. Originally having signed with Oregon out of high school, Rivera transferred to College of the Canyons in California after redshirting his first year at Oregon. His play in 2009 at College of the Canyons was enough to garner the attention of Tennessee coaches and he signed with the Vols in the 2010 recruiting class.

Year

Games Played Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns Average per Game
2010 12 10 97 9.7 0

8.1

2009

35 330 3
2008

Season Redshirt

Rivals: *** #39 TE, #94 CA

Recruiting 2008 Scout: *** #45 TE

Game Stats are from http://www.utsports.com

Senior Brent Slusher, an Auburn transfer, could contribute next season as well. He could see the field fairly early as his 6’4” 254 pound frame is ideal for immediate playing time. It’s been a while since he has seen the field but if he can nail down the play book during this redshirt year and off season he should be able to contribute as a solid back up.

Rivals

Scout

***

***
#18 TE #4 KY

#56 TE

Also on the roster listed at tight end are Seniors Ben Lehning, Ben Bartholomew, and Matt Wegzyn. Vol fans probably will not see Lehning on the field, and chances are slim for both Bartholomew and Wegzyn. Bartholomew could potential return to the fullback position as a back up to rising sophomore Channing Fugate.

Incoming Freshman

Luckily the Vols do have a commitment from a tight end in Brendan Downs of Bristol, TN. Downs originally committed to Duke and former Vols offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. Downs later decommitted and then committed to Vols with his teammate center Mack Crowder. At 6’6” 224 pounds Downs needs to add some weight to his frame but he should be able to contribute in 2011 because he is an early enrollee and will have the benefit of the full off season with the team.

Year

Games Played Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns
2010 10 30 392 13.07

4

2009

5 7 194 27.71 1

Stats are from maxpreps.com

The Vols are still heavily recruiting several tight end prospects and are likely to land at least one more. However since they are not committed yet we will only take into account the tight ends mentioned in this post.

Projected Depth Chart

Expect the Vols to use several multi tight end sets next year. As I noted in a post last year, during  an interview with Dave Hooker, formerly of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Dooley said, “It (his interest in using tight ends) stems from sitting there for seven years in so many defensive meetings with Nick. You kind of listen to what gives defenses problems. Whenever you have an offense with two tight ends, you can do a lot of things.” You can expect those tight ends to play in an order similar to the one listed below. If a new recruit is added, depending on who it is, they will likely fall in the top 3 of the list.

  1. Michael Rivera
  2. Brendan Downs
  3. Brent Slusher
  4. Ben Bartholomew
  5. Matt Wegzyn
  6. Ben Lehning

Coming Soon: Running Backs

Luke Stocker Picture from tnjn.com

Mychal Rivera Picture from govolsxtra.com

Brent Slusher Picture from auburn.scout.com

Ben Bartholomew Picture from utsports.com

Brendan Downs Picture from www2.tricities.com

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About Steven Harris

Steven Harris is a fifth year senior at the University of Tennessee. Majoring in sports journalism, this blog provides an outlet for Harris to share his thoughts on the state of the University of Tennessee's athletic department''s Volunteer teams. View all posts by Steven Harris

One response to “The 2011 Offense Part 3

  • Jason Wynngard

    Really like your straightforward observations, the manner you organize information, and overall tone of what I read here.

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