March 13, 2012

A&M's tight ends: do they have a role?

Now that 2012's signing day has come and gone, Texas A&M knows for sure who it will be going into SEC play with. will look at the 2012 team, position by position, as spring practice approaches. The latest in the series: tight end.

Losses from last year: None.

Players on scholarship: 3

Players taking part in spring practice: 3

Overall talent: Moderate

Overall experience: High

Overview: In Mike Sherman's offense, the tight end played a key role: he was a pass receiver off the line of scrimmage, a player split out into the slot and a blocker both at the line and as an H-back.

At the University of Houston, Kevin Sumlin didn't have a tight end on the roster.

Not one.

So what does that mean for Nehemiah Hicks, Hutson Prioleau and Michael Lamothe? That's one of the biggest questions that will be answered during spring practice.

The Starter:

Redshirt junior Hutson Prioleau

• 14 catches for 135 yards and 1 TD in 2011
• Greatest assets: Steadily improving blocker and reliable pass catcher
• The bottom line: Any of the three tight ends on the roster could be deemed the starter, as all got the nod in 2011. Prioleau is the classic tight end: big (6'4", 251 lbs.) , slow and solid at the line of scrimmage. Sumlin had tight ends similar to Prioleau during his stint at Oklahoma, so there's a chance his role in 2012 mirror theirs: pass catcher off the line of scrimmage in the seam, especially in the red zone.

The rest of the rotation:

Junior Nehemiah Hicks

• 12 catches for 106 yards in 2011
• Greatest assets: Highly athletic and quick for his size
• The bottom line: Hicks was one of last year's truly big disappointments, culminating in his disastrous game against Kansas State (three key drops and a crucial offensive facemask penalty). He would likely still be in the doghouse this year had Sherman stayed, but Sumlin's arrival gives him a new lease on life. Even though he's similar in size to Prioleau (6'4", 249), Hicks' athleticism allows him to do more of what the new staff seems to want from a tight end: split out and catch passes. But if his hands don't improve and the specter of K-State returns, it won't matter who the coach is.

Senior Michael Lamothe:
• 14 catches for 109 yards and 3 TD in 2011
• Greatest assets: Intelligence and versatility. Solid, if not spectacular in all areas.
• The bottom line: 2012 shouldn't be very different for Lamothe; he's never really had a position. Instead, he goes where he's needed (tight end or H-back), does his job very well and finds his way onto the field. Odds are that will happen again next season, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out. He has been A&M's Glue Guy on offense for the past two years and has become indispensable.

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