Neal Brown’s Air Raid offense has given #BBN dreams filled with loud sirens following deep passes. It has allowed us to reminisce to better times, filled with legendary QB/WR combos like Couch-Yeast or Lorenzen-Abney, giving us hope for this young team; if only it was a perfect world. The current state of the program doesn’t quite have the resources to immediately pull off a Couch-esque turnaround. Assistants have frequently complained about the lack of depth at the WR position, focusing much of their recruitment on playmaking, athletic WRs. The best solution to the complex Air Raid equation now lies in the other guys: the Tight Ends.
Tight Ends aren’t the sexiest commodity, especially in an uptempo offense, but luckily Coach Brown knows that he has to utilize a position that has been neglected in the past. Last year, only Tyler Robinson and Ronnie Shields caught passes from the position, combining for 18 catches for 165 yards and 1 Touchdown. In one winter offseason the position has taken a GIANT step forward. The veteran group used to simply be classified as blockers; now all 4 players are being asked not only to lineup on the end, but also in the backfield and as standup Wide Receivers. The opportunities for the TEs may only continue to grow if they play well. Coach Brown will not determine how the offense will look until the fall (translation: who they will be trying to get the ball to), “We have to figure out who we are; who are our best 11 players, then who our next best are. It’s a work in progress but right now I would say you may see one or more of those guys [TEs] out there a lot.”
So who are these guys?
The name you’re probably most familiar with is new JUCO transfer Steven Borden (#85). On looks alone, Borden is the odd man out in the group, standing a few inches shorter than the rest while rocking some nice swooshy hair. He doesn’t look like an athlete, but Holy Moly the kid can flat-out move. He’s been registered on the High-Performance GPS as Top Performer multiple times and has proven himself to be a reliable target in his short time at UK. He is considered the most versatile player at the position, which will make it interesting to see where he will be lined up during the Blue/White game.
Ronnie Shields (#80) is another versatile player with athletic ability that has been praised since I began covering the football team last summer. After maturing some, the staff feels they can get him to reach his full potential this year. Whether he finds his niche standing up on the outside or in the backfield, if he can hold onto the ball you can expect to see many passes thrown towards the big 6’5 target.
Tyler Robinson (#89) and Jordan Aumiller (#86) are two big white guys that look like your prototypical blocking tight ends. Tight End Coach Vince Marrow and Neal Brown are both excited about their offseason developments in the passing game. Coach Brown has high regards for both, saying, “Tyler Robinson runs better than he showed last year. He’s dropped some weight which has been beneficial. Jordan Aumiller has been playing really, really well. I’m proud of him for the way he’s bounced back. Coach Marrow has done a good job with him. He’s excited about playing.” Aumiller started at the bottom [of the depth chart], now he’s here [getting playing time].
Whether it’s the Wide Receivers or the Tight Ends, if the offense performs like they did last Saturday, expect to hear sirens early and often April 13th.
For those that didn’t understand the punny title, don’t miss out on the Black Keys’ weirdly awesome music video.