2009 Football Position Breakdown: Tight Ends/Fullbacks

Photo courtesy www.kstatesports.com

We've combined the fullbacks and tight ends into one group because, well, there aren't many of them, and it would appear that fullbacks in the "new" Bill Snyder system will function as both tight ends and fullbacks.  Maybe that makes them "H-Backs", but to placate the purists out there, we'll just call them hybrids.  Or, I'll simply call him "Braden Wilson" because he's the only one on the team.  Either or.

Regardless, the tight end and fullback positions were always full of exceptional talent and fan favorites during Bill Snyder's seventeen year stint in Manhattan.  Shad Meier, Brian Casey, Thomas Hill, Brian Goolsby, and Travis Wilson are just a few names that pop into my head without really trying, and we could easily dig up more examples of exceptional players if we tried.  Regardless, Bill Snyder has always used these flexible positions in creative and effective ways, so going into 2009, it probably doesn't hurt that he has a small, yet capable, stable of players to work with.

Click the jump to find out more about "the guys that are bigger than the skill position players, but smaller than the offensive linemen, therefore we're lazily lumping them together because otherwise it would be more of a blurb than a post".

#85 Jeron Mastrud

Class: Senior
Height: 6-6
Weight: 253
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: Yes (31 games)
Honors: Player Representative (2009), Team Captain (2009), Mackey Award Watch List (2009)
Official Bio

Analysis:

If you're looking for an elder statesman on the offensive side of the ball, I don't think you can find one that better fits the description than Mastrud.  A starter since his true freshman season, Mastrud has been solid in both phases of typical tight end responsibilities: blocking and receiving.  He's big, tall, deceptively quick for a man his size, and he has reliable hands.  Truthfully, even with the dynamic playmaking ability of Brandon Banks, Mastrud, at this point, is probably the closest Kansas State has to a 'sure thing' in terms of an NFL draft pick on the offense.

Even though Mastrud has been one of the more consistent performers on this team in the last three years, he hasn't gotten the kind of publicity that some other notable tight ends have.  Mainly, it's because he's not the kind of big play threat that a Chase Coffman was, nor is he physical specimen that USC's Anthony McCoy is.  Mastrud is simply a steady, calming force in the offense, and he's a big target with a sure set of hands for the quarterback.  He doesn't make costly mistakes, he doesn't drop many balls, and he adequately protects the quarterback and assists in the run game.  Essentially, he's everything you want in a tight end, and KSU is very lucky to have him.

 

#46 Prizell Brown

Class: Junior
Height: 6-4
Weight: 265
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

Analysis:

Prizell Brown is one of those late summer additions that Bill Snyder is so good at acquiring.  Originally, after graduating from Blinn College, Brown narrowed his choices down to North Carolina and Kansas State, and the Tarheels won his services.  However, even though he qualified per NCAA standards, there was something that kept him from getting admitted into UNC (I don't know the details).  So, because KSU complies with NCAA and Big 12 admittance standards, and he could be admitted based on that criteria, the Wildcats went out and scooped up the athletic tight end.

Originally, in high school, Brown was a wide receiver and defensive back.  However, at Blinn, he put on some weight, and in the last couple of years, he's moved to the tight end position.  He did a little bit of rushing out of the fullback position at Blinn as well, so that means he fits in well with the hybrid role KSU seems to be utilizing.

Brown should have a redshirt available.  So, it will be up to the coaching staff to decide whether or not they want him to spend a year taking snaps behind Mastrud, or if they want to redshirt him and get him more acquainted with the offense due to the fact he is still evolving as a tight end.

 

#47 Gabe Gantz

Class: Junior
Height: 6-6
Weight: 252
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

Analysis:

Honestly, I don't have a real analysis on Gantz.  He was a former walk-on from Perry-Lecompton who earned a scholarship last year, and he's primarily a special teams player.  He's got good size (almost a Mastrud clone), so he may be asked to fill in on some running plays if Mastrud gets injured.

Other than that..I got nothin'.

 

#43 Jeremy Sutton

Class: Junior
Height: 6-5
Weight: 250
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: All-Jayhawk Conference Honorable Mention (2008)
Official Bio

Analysis:

Typically, I don't like to throw walk-ons into the mix (mainly because I'm lazy), but Sutton is intriguing.  He was an all-conference player at Ft. Scott Community College last year, and he elected to walk-on at KSU.  He may or may not get playing time, but the kid obviously has some skills, and it will be interesting to see if he gets into the mix at tight end this season.

 

#80 Travis Tannahill

Class: Freshman
Height: 6-4
Weight: 240
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

Analysis:

Tannahill is a former grayshirt during the Ron Prince era that's seemingly coming into his own under Snyder.  He was the clear #2 tight end during the Spring Game, and he caught five passes for 49 yards.  Since he grayshirted in 2008, and he joined the team in January, he went through spring practice this year, but he still has another redshirt available.  Depending on whether or not Brown and Sutton step up, Tannahill may get playing time as a backup, or he could redshirt and continue to develop.

 

#18 Andre McDonald

Class: Freshman
Height: 6-8
Weight: 250
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

Analysis:

The first thing you think of when you see McDonald is that he's a big dude.  That may seem like an obvious thing to say, but I was at Varney's last year, walking around looking for yet another KSU t-shirt, and McDonald was there as well (presumably doing the same thing), and I walked by him and thought "Damn, that's a big dude."

Obviously, you don't see a lot of 6-8 tight ends, but that's what makes this young man so interesting.  He could play tight end, or he could redshirt and bulk up to play on the offensive line.  Either way, I wouldn't expect to see too much of him this season as he's a prime candidate to redshirt.

 

#48 Braden Wilson

Class: Freshman
Height: 6-4
Weight: 245
Previous Starter (Y/N)?: No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

Analysis:

I don't know much, but I do know this; Braden Wilson will play this year.

Again, here's another Prince grayshirt that's seemingly thriving under Snyder.  He was the starter at the hybrid spot during the Spring Game, and really, he's the only fullback on scholarship right now.  During the Spring Game, he lined up as a fullback in offset I-formations, and he also lined up as an H-back at other times.  So, presumably, any time this year when KSU needs someone to use in a creative blocking formation, Wilson will be that guy.

To see what I think he'll do in this offense when not lined up as a true fullback in the I-formation, watch how Florida used tight end Aaron Hernandez in this play.  Hernandez lined up as an H-back behind the right tackle, and he pulled to spring a block for Percy Harvin.  I can see Wilson being used in situations similar to this to give the offense an added dimension in run blocking outside of normal I-formations.

Percy Harvin Counter Play (via Year2Wordpress)


Projected Depth Chart:

Tight End

Starter: Jeron Mastrud
Backup: Prizell Brown OR Travis Tannahill
Third String: Jeremy Sutton OR Gabe Gantz

Fullback/H-Back

Starter: Braden Wilson

Justification:

Obviously, Mastrud is starting.  The real question is, "Who backs him up?"

Personally, I like the idea of Prizell Brown redshirting, but you wonder if Sndyer and his staff feel like they can keep an athlete like Brown off of the field for the entire year.  If Gantz and Sutton step up, there is a chance Brown may get the developmental redshirt, or if Snyder chooses to play Tannahill, Brown could sit out this year as well.  However, I don't believe there is a situation where both Tannahhill and Brown play this season.  I think it's either or.  Whoever gets beat out sits.

Of course, if Sutton steps up and wins the job, both players could get redshirts, so that's not outside the realm of possibility.  The only thing that we do know for sure is that Mastrud and Wilson will be holding down the starting positions come September 5th against UMass, and the rest of the position will have to sort itself out.

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