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Huskies by Position: Tight Ends

After a very down year, can the tight ends be a reliable option for Cochran and Whitmer?

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, UConn tight ends combined for 28 catches totaling 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. Granted, it was in a year where there were three different quarterbacks, two different head coaches, and too many other terrible things to count.

The tight end position has been sorely lacking production since Ryan Griffin graduated after the 2012 season and was drafted by the Texans. That year Griffin was the team’s second leading receiver, hauling in 29 passes for 484 yards and accounting for 6 of the team’s 10 receiving touchdowns. Most importantly, he gave Chandler Whitmer a reliable safety valve and red zone target.

This year marks a new coach, a new offense, and a new era. Amidst all the change, there is comfort in retaining the team’s leading producer at tight end, redshirt junior Sean McQuillan.

Starters:

#49 Sean McQuillan, (R)Junior, 6-3 239

To nobody's surprise McQuillan, a Glastonbury, Connecticut native, was named the starting tight end on the depth chart for Friday night’s game against BYU. Last season he led Husky tight ends with 25 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown. He sat out the last three games of the season after injuring his ribs, meaning he played mostly with Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle under center.

In his only appearance playing extensively with Casey Cochran (at SMU) he had 6 receptions for 25 yards and his only touchdown. After a full, healthy off-season together, it will be interesting to see if Cochran and McQuillan can build on their lone appearance starting together.

#80 Tommy Myers- (R)Freshman, 6-5 238

Rounding out the two-deep depth chart at tight end is another Connecticut native. Myers had an impressive off-season after redshirting last year, and if his high school career is any indication of future success, fans in East Hartford are going to have a fun time watching a very athletic tight end.

At Coventry High School, Myers played tight end, defensive end, safety, kicker, and punter as a three-year starter, catching 27 passes for 529 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also was an all-state basketball player averaging 23 points and 19 rebounds a game, and won a New England Championship in the javelin.

Myers truly #bleedsblue as his father Norm played football and his mother played basketball for the Huskies, scoring over 1,000 points in her career. She also was a senior on Geno Auriemma’s first team at UConn.

Depth:

#94 Nicholas Lensander, (RS)Sophomore, 6-4 230

Lensander spent last year redshirting after coming over from the Pratt Institute in New York where he was an offensive guard as well as a defensive end. He most likely will primarily be used as a blocking tight end.

#86 Alec Bloom- Freshman, 6-7 231

Bloom, the freshman from Ligonier, PA is very tall and athletic. In this video of his junior year highlights he looks like a player that you would create in Madden that towers above everyone else. During his senior year, he was named to the Pennsylvania Sportswriters Class AA All-State Team and the USA Today All-Pennsylvania team after having 45 receptions for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns. Diaco said that Bloom got off to a good start during summer practice, and with his size and pass catching ability could compete for time as a red zone threat.

#83 Steve Hashemi- Freshman, 6-6 262

The Trumbull, Connecticut native has the designation of being first player who committed to UConn after Bob Diaco was hired. He got off to a good start in summer practice after moving to tight end from offensive tackle where he was an all-state selection for the St. Joseph High School team that won the class M state title. At the start of summer practice, Diaco mentioned Hashemi, along with Bloom, as someone he was excited about.

The long term plan is still for Hashemi to play Tackle, but Diaco wanted him on the field. He suggested that as a blocking tight end, he would still do a lot of the same things that a tackle does so it would both serve the team and the players development as an offensive lineman down the road.

#88 Sheriden Lawley- Freshman, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 6-5 238

The first year player from Canada moved to tight end from defensive end after being spending his prep year at Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey and being named to the Newark Star Ledger All-Prep Team. He too will likely redshirt this season.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Cummings will run an offense that features multiple tight ends and with a promising freshman class the future of the position is looking good. Right now it is a question mark. McQuillan is the only tight end on the roster who has caught a pass in college, and is the clear leader of the group. He was able to learn the position under Ryan Griffin (Houston Texans) and John Delahunt (now in the CFL), and is now expected to mentor the rest of the the group. If we could get a breakout performance from Tommy Myers or Alec Bloom, it could quickly solidify a position that was very thin last year. The unit would feature big, athletic weapons for Cochran and Whitmer to use in various situations to exploit mismatches on the ground and in the air.