CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Paul Freedman has always enjoyed wearing red, white and blue, and he got the perfect opportunity this summer.
“I’ve always been a pretty passionate guy about July Fourth and stuff like that, and I have a lot of America gear,” he said. “So before I left, I went to Walmart and picked up a few things so I could show my support and try to embarrass Paige a little bit.”
Freedman described attending the games as a “once in a lifetime experience,” but it was cut short midway through the games.
He returned for his own athletic pursuits — Freedman is a tight end for the Cavaliers, and one of two seniors at the position, which promises to be one of the bright spots on the U.Va. offense.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor told tight ends coach Shawn Moore earlier this year that he has “the best job in America,” referring to the experience Moore is coaching at the position.
Freedman and fellow senior Colter Phillips anchor the lineup, with both having started games. Converted defender Jeremiah Mathis came into his own at the end of the 2011 season, and sophomore Jake McGee (Collegiate) dazzled during spring ball.
“I’d like to play them all,” Lazor said. “I’d like to give them all great roles they can take pride in doing well. You talk about a bunch of great guys and competitors. I’m very hopeful for them.”
The staff seems prepared to back up that talk. Coach Mike London said there will be plenty of two-tight end formations this season, and potentially a three-tight end formation in goal line situations.
“We use the tight ends in a lot of different ways,” Freedman said. “We all have our different skill sets, which gives us the ability to stay fresh no matter what we do.”
In Lazor’s offense, the tight ends are called on to block with the offensive line and run routes like receivers — occasionally both on the same play.
“For the most part, that outside running game is determined by the tight ends blocking,” he said.
Contributions also will be welcome downfield. Phillips and Mathis each have three touchdown catches in their career, and Freedman has one.
McGee is the youngest member of the group, but picked up a touchdown catch during the team’s spring game.