Listen, it’s simple: what we do know about the FSU tight ends entering 2018’s spring practice is far outweighed by what we don’t. In the last year, the Seminoles lost their top-three TEs, and the position itself will change in Willie Taggart’s offense. First-stringer Ryan Izzo left early for the NFL Draft, after Mavin Saunders transferred, and Jeremy Kerr departed via medical hardship.
The next man up appears to be sophomore Tre’ McKitty— but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At 6’5, 241, McKitty is an athletic specimen who saw increased time as 2017 wore on and should fit well in Taggart’s scheme that figures to flex TEs out wide. McKitty is the only Seminole tight end on the roster to have caught a collegiate pass. And I mean “a” pass quite literally, as his career reception line begins and ends with a lone snag against Louisiana-Monroe, albeit for 23 yards.
It gets tougher after him. Junior Naseir Upshur is back, but he simply hasn’t shown much upside during his time in Tallahassee. FSU didn’t list a single fullback on its most recent roster release, which means that Upshur, who is more of an H-back, will need to improve upon his quickness if he wants to see time at the TE spot.
Speaking of conversions, former fullbacks Johnathan Vickers and Gabe Nabers are now listed as tight ends. At 6’1, 235, Vickers, a redshirt-senior, boasts ample experience, but his length is a real question mark at his new position. Nabers, a Junior who tips the scales at 242 and measures in at 6’3, is a more athletic prospect, but questions persists as to how he’ll operate in space.
The only other spring option is Alexander Marshall, a towering 6’8, 232-pound redshirt-freshman. Marshall faces the opposite challenge of the fullback converts: he’s plenty long, but is he dynamic enough to translate into Taggart’s system?
Of course, another possibility involves a further transcendence of traditional position roles: while FSU is light at the TE spot, it’s loaded with talented running backs, many of whom are accomplished pass catchers. Getting the best athletes onto the field may well mean having some of those RBs take snaps in a role that would otherwise be allocated to a tight end. 2018’s spring practices will address this plethora of questions that surround the TE position group for FSU, and we’ll be here to keep you updated.