In a season full of questions for Syracuse football -- especially the offense -- one of the biggest ones was what happened to the tight end position? With a decent collection of players at the position, from Kendall Moore, Jamal Custis and Josh Parris, to Tyler Provo and Cameron MacPherson (among other interlopers), it was a shock to observers to see such little involvement of tight ends in 2014. Between Custis, Moore and Parris, tight ends only caught 17 passes all season, with zero for anyone but Parris (four) from October on.
Word on the street says that's going to change come next season, with Tim Lester's offense putting an emphasis on tight end involvement.
I'll believe it when I see it, but for now, personnel at least appears to be shifting in that direction. Along with yesterday's letter of intent from JUCO recruit Trey Dunkelberger, Syracuse still has every player listed in the previous paragraph still on the roster. Recent commit Amir Ealey is considered a tight end by some, but we have him as a defensive end. But the key here is Dunkelberger, who's a huge, physical target and is athletic enough to challenge for snaps in his first year.
I've seen comparisons to Stanford when it comes to Lester's offensive scheme. And while that may terrify some -- especially given the Cardinal's 77th-ranked attack this season -- it at least means a larger involvement for tight ends, and a smarter use of Syracuse's running backs. Through 12 games, Stanford's tight ends have caught 48 passes for 661 yards and six touchdowns. The rushing attack wasn't as spot-on as it's been in previous years, however, which is why the overall offense dropped. Given the collection of backs the Orange have at their disposal in 2015, a similar attack (heavy TE use, plus a ton of run plays), could end up yielding some positive results. I'll stress could though, because again, no sure things...
We'll see what happens for the rest of the offseason. There are murmurs that Gulfport, Fla. product Raeshon Dunbar could potentially be another target at the position, but I also wouldn't doubt it if the team's happy with the large collection of tight ends already on the roster. Either way, the Syracuse offense is likely to look very different come September (count me as one who's VERY thankful for that).