Looking Ahead: Tight Ends

After losing James Hanna and Trent Ratterree to graduation, and Austin Haywood to transfer, the Sooners entered the 2012 season without any experienced tight ends on the roster.

Brannon Green was used mostly in the "Belldozer" formation in the 2012 season..

In the recruiting class that followed, the Sooners signed four tight ends. But without question, the two headliners were true freshman, Taylor McNamara and JUCO transfer, Brannon Green. The starting position seemed to be down to either McNamara or Green, but just before summer, defensive end, Geneo Grissom walked into Bob Stoops’ office to request a move to tight end.

All three were expected to see playing time throughout the year. But as the season progressed, the tight-end position was all but absent from the Oklahoma offense. According to Bob Stoops, the reason was simple.

“Right now, our tight end position is Trey Millard, Aaron Ripkowski and Jayden Bird until these guys can develop and get further along,” said Stoops. “I love the tight ends. We’ve just got to bring them along and get them to where these other guys are.”

By the middle of the season, the Grissom experiment had come to an end. “We thought it was really going to come together, and it just hasn’t,” said Stoops. Grissom then moved back to his original position at defensive end.

After McNamara was sidelined the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, Green was the only one of the three still at the position. Unless Blake Bell was on the field, the position was non-existent in the offense.

Brannon Green: After transferring from Fort Scott Community College, Green was brought in to bring back the bulk at the position. In his first career game as a Sooner, he had an 18-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter that extended the Sooners lead over the Miners to 10. But, that was the last touchdown that any tight-end on the roster would see for the rest of the season. Green appeared in 11 games this season, but it was mainly in a blocking role in the “Belldozer” formation. He finished the year with three receptions and 45 yards. With the Sooners expected to use more quarterback run game this year, it’s very realistic that Green will be used frequently in blocking roles. But, don’t sleep on his abilities in the passing game. Green will be a senior this upcoming season

Taylor McNamara- In his freshman season, McNamara appeared in two games and made his first career start against Florida A&M. After that, however, McNamara basically disappeared. It was announced in late October that he would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. According to Stoops, he would receive a medical redshirt. At 6’5, 238 pounds, McNamara has the potential to be the next great at the position. However, it was clear last season that he still needs time to develop and mature. This offseason will be very key for him as he tries to prove to the coaches that he can be a reliable option in the passing game this upcoming season. His development will be very key for the future at the position.

Currently, there are three other tight-ends on the roster. Senior, Chase Buck, redshirt freshman, Sam Grant, and redshirt freshman, Conner Knight. None of them have seen the roster, and it’s hard to imagine that changing this year. If the tight end position is re-established this season, it looks to be Green and McNamara that will see the game-snaps. Also, the Sooners currently have no tight end commitments in the current recruiting class.

One of the reasons why it was so shocking to see the absence at tight end this year is because Oklahoma has traditionally always been strong at the position. Part of the reason why the Sooners were unable to run the ball consistently against the better teams on the schedule was because of the absence at tight end. If the Sooners want to get back to being physical on offense, and being able to run the ball at will, the tight end position must be re-established in the offense.

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