The Tight End position at Indiana this season should be incredibly interesting to say the least. The receiving corps from the wide position has always been one of the Hoosiers’ main assets through the years. In fact, if there were ever anything to brag about for Indiana it has always been the wide receivers. Because of that fact the tight end position has always been a secondary option in the passing game and you would never see gaudy numbers come from a Hoosier TE. Blocking was always the name of the game if you chose to come to IU to get some reps at the TE position. That however, is likely to change this year.
This year will be an interesting year in terms of diversification from offenses we have seen in Bloomington previously. Kevin Wilson TEs have always been weapons in the Wilson offense not defenses from the pass rush. This coming season is the first year that IU will potentially have something to fear from the receiving TEs. The position only lost one player from last year to this and brought in no one new so the following players have at least some experience at the collegiate level and a few are all but shoe-ins for a large number of reps.
Ted Bolser: 6’6" and 220 lbs. that can run a 4.6-40, is going to be tough for a lot of teams to handle. Bolser will undoubtedly be the starting TE for Indiana. Bolser is a pass catching tight end that has the capabilities to have a monster season this year. He was named to the John Mackey Award watch list for this coming season. As a sophomore that is pretty impressive, but when you lead all freshmen tight ends last year with 5 TDs in a not so TE-centric offense you are going to garner attention. Bolser is one of those late bloomers that took a redshirt first year to physically grow into his potential. Bolser is most definitely a diamond in the rough for the Hoosier and has the potential to really turn some heads for another three years. If Bolser does have a weakness it is in his so-so pass blocking. But hey, so does Dallas Clark.
Max Dedmond: The Evansville Central standout and current senior Max Dedmond is more of a traditional style tight end than the receiving ends that have become standard in the modern game of football. Thus he is also included as a starter for the tight ends because of his different skill set from Bolser. If Bolser is your prototypical receiving end, Dedmond is your out front run blocking end. It will be interesting to see how he is used in Kevin Wilson’s offense this season. His ability to provide a different look for a defense should be beneficial. The big negative is his hands are only so-so. Therefore he provides only a minimal threat in the receiving game. If he’s in the game you can bet more often than not we will be running the ball. That makes the offense predictable with him on the field, but then again his blocking ability means that defenses really can’t do much about it even if they know it is coming.
Charles Love III: Mephis, TN native and Junior to be Love will be the first off the sidelines if injury is to bring receiving end Bolser down. Love was initially recruited as a receiver but his size (6’3 220) has put him into the role of tight end depth when forced to compete with our very good receivers of the past and present. He has not seen a lot of on field action in the past (0 receptions last year) but with the departure of senior Brad Martin he should see some reps on Saturday. His size and speed will make him difficult for any linebacker to cover but his skills aren’t other worldly. Great hands and increasing size could see him even get some reps as a fullback if need be. Either way he is some quality receiving depth but is still going to need some work and size in order to become a more effective blocker.
Paul Phillips: At 6’5" 225 lbs., Phillips will be the blocking depth behind Dedmond. The redshirt freshman out of Bethesda, Maryland is a big kid but far from quick on his feet. His large size will get him a chance to win a two tight end set position on one side of the line in key running situations and he should thrive. I don’t think he will be able to unseat Dedmond this year but when Dedmond graduates Phillips will have the capability to be the big run-blocking TE that will be missing in 2012. Phillips will probably see more time on the field during the week than on Saturday but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get in the game here or there as well.
Leneil Himes: Another redshirt freshman, Himes will be more receiving depth at TE. He also has some potential (as we saw in Spring Practices) to get some play at fullback. He is very athletic and agile for 6’3" 235 but like Phillips, not the quickest. Blocking will be a strong point for him but if he improves his hands he can be a load in the passing game as well. Until then, look for Himes to come out of the backfield as a blocker on Saturday and provide competitive scout team offense during the weekdays.