Stiney Searching for Depth at Tight End

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Strike up a conversation about tight ends with a typical VT fan, and you’ll generally get the “Why don’t we throw it to the tight ends more?” response.  My response is different.  What’s more important in Virginia Tech’s offense: that the tight ends catch more passes, or that the tight ends can run block?  Without a doubt, it’s the latter.

Virginia Tech was a good outsize zone team from 2009 through 2011, and that’s because their tight ends and wide receivers could execute their blocks on the outside.  Andre Smith was an outstanding blocking tight end, and for a guy who played the position for only a year, Chris Drager was pretty good at it, too.

Tech’s outside zone game fell off the cliff this past season, and it happened for several reasons.  The lack of good blockers at the tight end spot was a primary reason, and no blocking at the wide receiver position was another.

Eric Martin has exhausted his eligibility, but I think there is more overall talent at this position in 2013 than there was in 2012.  There is also more experience at the top of the depth chart.  But after Ryan Malleck , tight ends coach Bryan Stinespring will be searching for some depth.

Ryan Malleck (88) leads the way for J.C. Coleman

Ryan Malleck (6-4, 244, Jr.)

Malleck played as a true freshman on special teams in 2011, and got his first real action at tight end last year.  He made seven starts as a true sophomore and hauled in 17 receptions for 174 yards.  He played a total of 435 snaps on offense, and got a lot of good experience under his belt.

With just one offseason in the strength and conditioning program under his belt, Malleck struggled at times at the point of attack in the running game.  He has the frame