FSU spring practice kicks off March 20 at 3:30 and our Florida State football spring 2013 preview continues with a look at the tight end position.
The tight ends were good, but not great in 2012, as FSU turned in a top-25 offense (we are aware that FSU's traditional numbers, like total yards and points, are off the charts, but one must adjust for the quality of competition, and top-25 is probably much more accurate than top-five). FSU returns all of its 2012 contributors.
Nick O'Leary returns as the starter. While he has not emerged as the star most believed he would become, he is a good tight end and improved his blocking.
However, he did fumble on multiple occasions last season, and needs to do a much better job of securing the football after he catches it.
On the year, O'Leary was targeted 32 times and caught 21 of them for 252 yards, or 7.9 yards/target. That's a decent lline for a tight end. Interestingly, Only five of those targets happened in passing downs. I guess that makes some sense, because tight ends often catch balls on run downs when the defense expects run and instead gets play action. On passing downs, often times a nickel set is used, which puts a better pass defender on the slot receiver or tight end, whichever the offense elects to use.
Kevin Haplea joined FSU as a transfer from Penn State and was a serviceable No. 2, though he did blow a blocking assignment and allow a punt to be blocked. He's not likely to start, but should play in multi-tight end packages (FSU calls these "silver").
Christo Kourtzidis is a talented big body who is more of an in-line tight end than O'Leary, who is naturally more of an H-back type. I am very excited to see what Kourtzidis can do and in time, think he can be a very good tight end, both in the run and pass game.
Arriving in June
FSU signed Jeremy Kerr, a jumbo tight end (6'5, 260 as a high school senior), and is saying all the right things about him remaining at tight end. However, many believe he will move to offensive tackle.