Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Practice Preview: Tight-Ends

Spring practice started today, and I'm hustling to finish up these previews before LSU gets too involved into spring practice.

LSU returns their entire group of tight-ends from a year ago, and they didn't add anyone new. So, there shouldn't be any real surprises.

Back for his senior season is All-SEC performer Richard Dickson, who has caught just over 30 passes in each of the last two years. If he has another similar season, he'll leave LSU as the Tigers' all-time leading receiver for a tight-end. He'll once again give opposing defenses another thing to worry about as they gameplan against LSU. Dickson really worked hard on improving his blocking, and he was a big part of LSU's success in the running game last year. DJ Williams from Arkansas will likely be the choice for Pre-Season All-SEC but Dickson will surely be on the 2nd team. Like the rest of LSU's team leaders, Dickson needs to stay healthy and do his best to set the example for the younger players.

The 2nd tight-end will likely be Mitch Joseph once again. Joseph did a nice job fulfilling the role of the blocking tight-end in LSU's offense. However, he was very one dimensional as he didn't catch a pass all year. He's obviously got the inside track for the #2 spot again, but he'll have some competition this year. At 6'5" 260 pounds, Joseph has the frame to be an effective blocker.

LSU has two players who redshirted a year ago who are now ready to compete for playing time.

The guy who may push Joseph for the blocking tight-end role is Matt Branch. Branch looked super coming out of high school, and at 6'6" 245 pounds, he's a bit more athletic than Joseph and presents a better target in the passing game.

LSU also has Tyler Edwards who is ready to play this year. Edwards is built more like Richard Dickson, and at 6'3" 235 pounds he's more of a receiver than a blocker. However, Edwards is very versatile. He split time last year practicing at tight-end as well as fullback. Les Miles has stated that Edwards will only be practicing at tight-end this spring. Without any true fullbacks on the roster this fall, Edwards could be used as an H-back type of lead blocker in certain formations.

LSU didn't sign any tight-ends in the Class of 2009, so we won't see any newcomers in the fall. The above 4 guys make up LSU's repertoire at tight-end for next season.


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