Tight ends back in play at UGA

Tight ends back in play at UGA

August 12th, 2009 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs worked on special teams Tuesday and will practice twice today, including a scrimmage this afternoon at Sanford Stadium. ... Freshman receivers Marlon Brown (finger) and Rantavious Wooten (hamstring) have been hobbled but are expected to participate.

ATHENS, Ga. -- With Matthew Stafford at quarterback, Knowshon Moreno at tailback and A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi at receiver, the Georgia Bulldogs didn't need a lot of production last season from their tight ends.

They didn't get much, either.

Tripp Chandler, Aron White and Bruce Figgins combined for 10 receptions, which was 14 fewer than the previous low of the Mark Richt era. In 2005, when the Bulldogs won their second Southeastern Conference title under Richt, Leonard Pope and Martrez Milner combined for 53 catches.

"I think it's a part of the offense that I don't want to say has faded out, but it hasn't been as much of a key role as it's been in the past," White said. "You had guys like Martrez Milner, Leonard Pope, Ben Watson and Randy McMichael who were playmakers and were obviously tremendous athletes.

"I'm not saying we haven't had tremendous athletes since, because Tripp Chandler was a great player, but I don't think we've been utilized the same way as in the past."

Chandler used up his eligibility last year and Figgins has been suspended for the first six games this season, so White will have to lead the charge if his position is to become an integral part of the offense again. Looking to provide assistance are freshmen Orson Charles and Arthur Lynch, who were rated by Scout.com as the third- and fifth-best tight ends in the 2009 signing class.

Also vying for playing time are redshirt freshman Bryce Ros and junior walk-on Derek Rich.

"We've got some healthy bodies there now, and we've got some young guys who are bringing lots of energy to our program," Richt said. "I like what I'm seeing right now. A year ago, our tight end position just about gave out, so I have to think we'll be more productive there compared to last year."

White was Rivals.com's No. 1 tight end in the '07 recruiting class, but at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds he was no match for SEC defensive ends. He redshirted that year and played at 227 pounds last season, but he now weighs 236 pounds and is just what Richt wants.

"If the tight end is in the game and people understand that we are serious about running the football, most defenses are going to have to play base," Richt said. "If you have a tight end who is a legitimate blocker but can catch the ball pretty well, you can get some matchups with linebackers and safeties."

Said White: "I don't want to say that I've come into my own, but I think I'm able enough to get out there and throw my body around. I'm not a dominant, point-of-attack kind of guy, but I think I can get the job done for sure."

Figgins (6-4, 260) is the biggest of the bunch, and Lynch (6-5, 240) is the biggest newcomer. Charles (6-3, 230) is the most similar to White, as each arrived with the possibility of playing tight end or receiver.

Georgia's tight ends are being overlooked as quarterback Joe Cox and tailback Caleb King take over more high-profile positions, but they expect their time to come.

"Our offense has been a little different, but I think the tight end will be used this year as an intermediate guy," White said. "We're definitely coming back to be a key part of this offense, and a needed part."