COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina tight ends coach Pat Washington has been an assistant coach in the SEC for almost two decades.
Washington, a former Auburn quarterback, spent most of that time coaching wide receivers at Missouri and Tennessee. As he enters his second season with the Gamecocks, he finds similarities in recruiting tight ends and wide receivers.
“It’s kind of unusual at the tight end position, because you’re not necessarily looking for that 6-5, 255-65 guy that’s a blocking tight end,” Washington said. “You’re really, personally, looking for a guy that’s a big receiver, the big receiver that has the potential to be a 240-250 range guy.
“You like to have height to go with it, but at the same time, a 6-1, 6-2 guy isn’t a bad football player, because he already has really good leverage. He has size and the toughness to do it.”
The Gamecocks roster has a couple tight ends built that way: K.C. Crosby (6-feet-1, 230 pounds) and Kiel Pollard (6-1, 235).
The team has bigger tight ends: Hayden Hurst (6-5, 253), Jacob August (6-6, 252), Kyle Markway (6-4, 246) and Evan Hinson (6-5, 253). Hinson is the only one who Washington had a hand in recruiting to South Carolina.
“I look for guys who are just athletic,” Washington said. “You don’t have to be a blazing-fast guy, but you have to be able to separate a little bit. Honestly, I like guys who play basketball.”
Hinson, of course, was on the Gamecocks basketball team that played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four. And, like a lot of other college tight ends, he played wide receiver in high school.
“That’s a big trend now, the big receivers,” Washington said. “You take a guy who’s probably a step slower to be an outside wide receiver, but he has the frame and size to be an inside guy or a blocking-type tight end, and that guy has become the new tight end.
“And, really, I like that guy, because he’s more athletic. I’m not really high on a guy who’s just a blocker, which you can use those guys at times, but I’d rather have a guy who can flex, move around, be adjustable.”