Maryland rewind '08: Tight ends

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It’s time to haul out a chart way, waaaay too early in an entry.

In this little segue, it’s time to take a look at four mystery players. Ooooh. Sounds snazzy, right?

Well, not especially, since the title of the entry pretty much provides a hint as to who is involved in the looming comparison.

Nonetheless, let’s get to it.

PlayerRec.  YardsTD
Player A
303180
Player B
292873
Player C
7660
Player D
101150

OK, no reason to keep the suspense too long. Joey Haynos ‘07 is Player A, while Dan Gronkowski‘08 is Player B. The comparable numbers means that despite Gronkowski’s case of the drops late in the season, he was pretty much Haynos’ equal as a pass catcher in their respective final season at Maryland.

And since Haynos was catching touchdowns for the Miami Dolphins late this season, that bodes well for Gronkowski’s future.

Anyway, Player C is Gronkowski ‘07, while Player D is Lansford Watson ‘08. Watson had some moments early in the season, and then seemed to be forgotten about until late November. He had another promising day against Boston College, but it sure looked like he could have been more useful this season.

Gronkowski and Watson took care of pretty much all of Maryland’s tight ends work, and in the receiving game they did a good job of just about matching what the Terps accomplished a year earlier. Of course, this analysis leaves out Jason Goode ‘07 (17-213-3 TD), but the hopes of having an H-back option pretty much vanished when Drew Gloster was declared ineligible over the summer.

The tertiary options weren’t going to fill that role. Tommy Galt is a solid special teams and goal line option, and he did record his first career catch on Oct. 18 against Wake Forest. If I have him pegged right, he probably would have traded the reception for a Boston Red Sox victory in Game 7 of the ALCS the next night, but a spot in the box score isn’t a bad thing.

True freshman Matt Furstenburg played on kickoff return team for two games, was replaced and later suffered a high ankle sprain and wasn’t heard from again on Saturdays.

Take Gronkowski out of the mix, shift Gloster to defense (in all probability) and add redshirt freshman Devonte Campbell, and you have the tight end roster for 2009. Expect Watson to put up Haynos ‘07/Gronkowski ‘08 numbers, and Furstenburg and/or Campbell to wind up as a secondary option. Galt will continue to be a reliable blocking tight end.

There isn’t a Vernon Davis in the bunch. But there doesn’t have to be. Maryland generally received solid play from its tight ends this past season, much as it has for all of coach Ralph Friedgen’s tenure. Watson might have been misplaced for two months, but he showed enough to suggest he could be a credible No. 1 option in his final three seasons.

Like so many other units, the tight ends could have been better but also vastly worse. In the end, it was mostly more of the same – and there’s every reason to believe the Terps will receive comparable production next season, especially if they develop an H-back-type player to serve as a complement.

Patrick Stevens

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