MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–For the West Virginia University football team, the tight end position has been used sparingly over the last few seasons but this upcoming year could be the one Mountaineer fans see more utilization from the spot.
“I think you can do a lot more when you have that tight end element,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “I started doing a lot of that when I was at Texas A&M. I didn’t have very many tight ends at Cal but last year, we really had one true tight end body. You weren’t going to put Elijah (Wellman) in those attach tight end situations being 245-250 pounds. Now, we are getting these tight end bodies that are 270 pounds and can move. You can get real multiple with it. You can still have a run threat but also have a dimension where they can stretch the field and get out on pass concepts. I always have been a big fan of tight ends. I think the way we have recruited and where we are at now, we are going to have five 6-foot-4 tight end bodies going into fall camp. I think that’s exactly where we want to be.”
Over the winter, WVU added Dan Gerberry to the coaching staff to be in charge of the tight ends and full backs.
During the 2017 season, he served as the senior football analyst for the Mountaineers and was an offensive graduate assistant during the 2015 season, working with the tight ends and fullbacks.
With the addition of Gerberry to the WVU coaching staff, the Mountaineers look to incorporate the tight ends into the offense more frequently.
WVU will have several options available, including Jovani Haskins, Logan Thimons, Elijah Drummond Jesse Beal, Matt Bezjak, Joseph Turner and Trevon Wesco. Incoming freshman T.J. Banks and Mike O’Laughlin are other option once they arrive.
For Wesco, he came to WVU after a year at Lackawanna College and was expected to contribute to the offense immediately. However, he was rarely used.
In 2016, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound tight end had one catch, a six-yard touchdown against Iowa State. Last year, he had just one reception.
In his final season, the senior is ready to make an impact but it will likely be as a fullback.
“Moving to fullback, I didn’t know much about fullback last year when I was in it,” Wesco said. “So, now, I know way more. I know where to go, where to be at a certain time on certain blocks and all those things. It helped a lot.”
While the two positions are relatively similar, fullbacks are usually looked upon to block and for power running.
“Trevon is really doing a great job for us,” Gerberry said. “He’s really grown up. I think a lot of his maturing has happened off the field. He was always a fantastic kid but things are really starting to click for him all the sudden. Trevon is doing a fantastic job in every way we could ask.”
Despite being a great blocker, Gerberry believes Wesco is a better pass catcher.
“I do believe just because of his body type that he was thrown into that mold of a blocking guy but I don’t necessarily think that is the fairest thing to say,” Gerberry said. “He is a very talented athlete. Yes, he is very gifted at blocking, but he also is very gifted at doing other things that guys of his size just can’t do. It’s just not fair to say he is just that.”
Haskins is another player that turned heads during the spring.
“I think he’s going to be fine in the long run, he’s a physical guy, he’s really long, he’s strong,” senior quarterback Will Grier said. “We know he’s going to be really good in the passing game; we’re bringing him along in the blocking game. Wesco is down there banging, doing a really good job in the run game and also in the pass game. I’m really excited about adding them in broadening what we do on offense a little bit.”
The 6-foot-4, 238-pound sophomore was a quarterback in high school that transitioned to tight end upon arriving in Morgantown but he is adapting well during his second season at the position.
“He is a really talented player who hasn’t played tight end for very long,” Gerberry said. He obviously was a quarterback in high school, and then he went to Miami, and now, he is here. He’s coming along. It is important to him. He is doing a good job.”
Transitioning from quarterback to tight end isn’t the easiest task but Gerberry thinks the Bergenfield, N.J. native is grasping the concept.
“It’s difficult, absolutely,” he said. “There are certain things. The physicality of the game is just new to you. A lot of the expectations in practice are new to you. You are not just going out to the field and throwing a few passes. You have a lot of small details that you have to pick up on that you never picked up on before. It is difficult, but he is doing a good job at it.”
Thimons moved over to tight end from linebacker and is still adjusting to his new home.
“Logan Thimons has come over from defense and he’s a physical kid who does everything right,” Gerberry said. The thing that I say about him all the time is that he plays the game the right way. He’s a fantastic kid. He is smart. It is important to him. He plays hard. He plays tough. He plays physical. A lot of the things are coming along with him, he just needs some more reps at it.”
Drummond is a sophomore that is also still developing but works hard.
“Elijah Drummond is doing a good job,” Gerberry added. “He is developing. He’s as consistent as you possibly can be. He does everything right all the time.”
Overall, the coaching staff is relatively pleased with the development of the position and could make it interesting to see if it is implemented more into the offense come fall.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS