Washington’s tight end position contains multitudes.
Though there are seven scholarship Huskies technically identified as “tight ends,” those players can be further fitted into one of three subcategories. The “Y” is a more traditional tight end — attached to the line of scrimmage, adept at run-blocking, a reliable target on third down and in the red zone. The “F,” meanwhile, acts more as the modern hybrid tight end — an athletic, mismatch-creating weapon who can slide outside or in the slot and win in the vertical passing game. The H-back, on the other hand, is exactly that; he lines up primarily in the backfield and is used as a run-blocker as well as a check-down safety valve.
Last month, Derham Cato was asked if any of his seven scholarship tight ends can effectively play all three positions.
“I mean, Cade (Otton), for sure,” said the second-year tight ends coach, referring to UW’s first-team All-Pac-12 performer. “I think Quentin (Moore) can grow into that. But we ask the guys to do a lot. Just because I say, ‘Hey man, you’re going to come in here and be a ‘Y,’ that doesn’t mean we’re not going to split you out. We’re going to split out Mark Redman and use him out there. But I think Cade is for sure that guy that can kind of do it all.”
But he can’t do it all at once.
Which means Washington will use a lot more than one tight end this fall.
So, on the other side of 15 spring practices, let’s dive further into the tight end depth chart.
Y tight end
Cade Otton, senior, 6-5, 250, Tumwater
Mark Redman, redshirt freshman, 6-6, 260, Newport Beach, Calif.
Mason West, redshirt freshman, 6-4, 235, Whittier, Calif.
F tight end
Devin Culp, junior, 6-4, 265, Spokane
Quentin Moore, sophomore, 6-5, 245, Kenmore
Jack Westover, junior, 6-3, 250, Bellevue
Devin Culp, junior, 6-4, 265, Spokane
Caden Jumper, freshman, 6-2, 270, Eatonville
Cade Otton’s importance can’t be overstated.
In his first four games as a full-time starter, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end from Tumwater led the Huskies in catches (18), receiving yards (258) and touchdown receptions (3) — establishing himself as Dylan Morris’ go-to target. And, besides his soft hands, route-running and penchant for carrying undersized, overmatched opponents for extra yards, he separated himself as a run-blocker as well.
Still, Otton’s value transcends his considerable on-field contributions.
“We’re really fortunate to have him back,” Cato said. “Obviously the big part is as a player, he’s a game-changer. But the other thing is just getting one more year for those young guys to see how it’s supposed to be done — everything from off-the-field preparation, to a mental and physical standpoint, how to come out to practice every day and attack every day.
“We talk a lot about stacking days around here, and he’s kind of an epitome of that.”
Otton — one of two captains in last weekend’s Purple vs. Gold game — effectively sets the standard.
But he’s far from the Huskies’ only intriguing tight end.
Next in line, from an experience standpoint, is 6-4, 265-pound junior Devin Culp — a physically formidable pass-catching threat who has yet to realize his supersized potential. In three seasons in Seattle, the Spokane native has caught just one pass for 15 yards, plagued by inconsistency and occasional drops.
And yet, he seemed to take significant strides this spring — practicing primarily with the first- and second-team and hauling in four passes for a team-high 57 yards in an impressive spring-game performance.
“I think he has taken a big step from a mental standpoint,” Cato said. “He did a lot of work in the offseason just studying and getting his playbook down. We’re thinking big things for him.”
Still, the tight end with the highest athletic ceiling is unquestionably Quentin Moore. A silky 6-5, 245-pound sophomore who can really run, Moore rightfully reminds some of Hunter Bryant (though the former is three inches taller). The Kenmore product and Independence Community College transfer dominated several practices late in the spring, stacking touchdown catches and highlight grabs. But, like Culp, he’s still working to eradicate drops and digest UW’s offensive system as well.
Still, given his considerable potential, there’s little question why Cato recruited Moore.
“The first two criterias in recruiting: No. 1, is he physical? He is physical,” Cato said with a smile. “He gets after people in the run game, especially when he knows what’s going (on). Then No. 2, is he big and can he run? He’s big and he can run. He’s a smooth athlete. He can stretch the field vertically. He gets in and out of breaks really well. He’s all of 6-5, 240. So he’s a special dude, and I do think especially in a year or two, when he can mature, he’s going to even be better at the point of attack.
“But he’s going to be one of those dudes that can give defenses fits. How do you want to play us when he’s in the game? Do you want to be in nickel or in base? That’s one of those match-up guys that’s going to give some defenses issues.”
Redman — a 6-6, 250-pound skyscraper — is more of a traditional tight end, with ideal size and a coveted skill set.
Namely, the Newport Beach, California, product nearly always catches the ball.
But that’s not all.
“I’m really excited about Mark. I think he’s had a hell of a spring,” Cato said. “I think he’s probably one of the most improved guys on the offense. Some of the things some people might miss if you’re watching it from the outside is some of the run-game stuff that he’s really taking the next step with. We’re really looking forward to him continuing to get stronger in the offseason, grow, put on a couple more pounds. But he’s been really good in the run game at the point of attack. We really think going forward he’s going to be fricking next in line from that perspective.
“In the pass game, I think you guys have seen he’s a pretty consistent pass-catcher, doesn’t have many drops, catches the ball well, does a really good job of finding holes in zones. He’s going to be a big target as a check-down player and then obviously in the red zone.”
Those four — Otton, Culp, Moore and Redman — will all likely find the field in some capacity this season, with former walk on Jack Westover holding down the half back role. It’s worth noting that Westover and redshirt freshman Mason West sat out most or all of the spring with unspecified injuries. Meanwhile, freshman halfback Caden Jumper appears headed for a redshirt season of his own.
There’s no question UW’s prostyle system leans heavily on tight ends — however the Huskies define that position.
Fortunately, when it comes to tight end talent, Otton is not alone.
Coming tomorrow: offensive line