SEC Country is breaking down each of Texas A&M’s position groups as the entire 2016 roster begins reporting to College Station.
Continuing with the series, we take a look at tight end. A position that hasn’t received much utilization in the past few years, will a new-look offense help reverse the trend?
Names you need to know: Grant Gustafson (redshirt freshman) Greer Shetler (redshirt freshman)
On the way: Kalvin Cline, Aaron Hansford, Luke Laufenberg
Analysis: Coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense may be known for putting up points, but not many come from the tight end position.
The Aggies utilized a tight end on just under one third of their offensive snaps in the 2015 season, and rarely were those players targeted while on the field. Former Texas A&M Jordan Davis caught two receptions (one touchdown) for seven yards during his freshman season, but was only on the field for 97 total snaps. When he transferred away from the program in February, the former four-star recruit was the only remaining player on scholarship at the position.
Texas A&M had options on their roster, such as Gustafson and Shetler, but the staff sought elsewhere to help round out the position this offseason.
Cline began his career at Virginia Tech working with current Texas A&M wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. After a promising freshman campaign that included 26 catches and two touchdowns for 321 total yards, injuries caused him to miss the majority of his next two seasons. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he will arrive to the Aggies in what will likely be their best plug-and-play option at the position.
Another option could be Hansford, who was a late swing on signing day when he pledged his commitment to Texas A&M, thanks in part to Aggies’ offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The duo developed a strong relationship during Hansford’s recruitment, and could likely be paired together on offense this upcoming season. Listed as an outside linebacker and wide receiver, it’s within the realm of possibility to see the 6-foot-2 Hansford operating as a tight end.
Finally, there’s preferred walk-on Luke Laufenberg, who arrives to College Station out of Liberty Christian in Argyle. Laufenberg described himself to SEC Country as faster than a corner when put outside and bigger than a linebacker when placed on the inside. Additionally, he is familiar with teammate and 2016 Texas A&M quarterback commit Nick Starkel, which only stands to benefit the Aggies as time progresses.
Key question: Just how much will the tight end be utilized in 2016? With a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, it’s anybody’s guess on what to expect from the position.
Bottom line: Coaches love to see points on the board, regardless of what position it comes from. These players may not become superstars overnight, but expect them to execute blocks in the run game and do whatever else is asked of them to help the offense as a whole improve.
Other positions in series: