After a very down year, can the tight ends be a reliable option for Cochran and Whitmer?
Last year, UConn tight ends combined for 28 catches totaling 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. Granted, it was in a year where there were three different quarterbacks, two different head coaches, and too many other terrible things to count.
The tight end position has been sorely lacking production since Ryan Griffin graduated after the 2012 season. In that year Griffin was the team’s second leading receiver catching 29 passes for 484 yards and accounting for 6 of the team’s 10 receiving touchdowns. Most importantly, he gave Chandler Whitmer a reliable safety valve and red zone target.
This year marks a new coach, a new offense, and a new era. Amidst all the change, there is comfort in retaining the team’s leading receiver amongst tight ends, redshirt junior Sean McQuillan.
#49 Sean McQuillan, (R)Junior, 6-3 239
To the surprise of nobody, McQuillan, the Glastonbury, Connecticut native was named the starting tight end on the depth chart for Friday night’s game against BYU. Last season he led Husky tight ends with 25 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown. He sat out the last three games of the season after injuring his ribs, meaning he played mostly with Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle under center.
In his only appearance playing extensively with Casey Cochran (at SMU) he had 6 receptions for 25 yards and his only touchdown. After a full, healthy offseason together, it will be interesting to see if Cochran and McQuillan can build on their lone appearance starting together.
#80 Tommy Myers- (R)Freshman, 6-5 238
Rounding out the two-deep depth chart at tight end is another Connecticut native. Myers had an impressive offseason after redshirting last year, and if his high school career is any indication of future success, fans in East Hartford are going to have a fun time watching a very athletic tight end.
At Coventry High School, Myers played tight end, defensive end, safety, kicker, and punter as a three-year starter, catching 27 passes for 529 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also was an all-state basketball player averaging 23 points and 19 rebounds a game, and won a New England Championship in the javelin.
Myers is a Husky by blood as his father Norm played football in Storrs and his mother played basketball for the Huskies, scoring over 1,000 points in her career. She also was a senior on Geno Auriemma’s first team at UConn.
#94 Nicholas Lensander, (RS)Sophomore, 6-4 230
Lensander spent last year redshirting after coming over from the Pratt Institute in New York where he was an offensive guard as well as a defensive end. He most likely will primarily be used as a blocking tight end.
#86 Alec Bloom- Freshman, 6-7 231
Bloom, the freshman from Ligonier, PA is very tall and athletic. In this video of his junior year highlights he looks like a player that you would create in Madden that towers above everyone else. During his senior year, he was named to the Pennsylvania Sportswriters Class AA All-State Team and the USA Today All-Pennsylvania team after having 45 receptions for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns. Diaco said that got off to a good start during summer practice, and with his size and pass catching ability could compete for time as he represents an ideal red zone target.
#83 Steve Hashemi- Freshman, 6-6 262
The Tumbull Connecticut native has the designation of being first player who committed to UConn after Bob Diaco was hired. He got off to a good start in summer practice after moving to tight end from offensive tackle where he was an all-state selection for the St. Joseph High School team that won the class M state title. At the start of summer practice, Diaco mentioned Hashemi, along with Bloom, as someone he was excited about.
#88 Sheriden Lawley- Freshman, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 6-5 238
The first year player from Canada moved to tight end from defensive end after being spending his prep year at Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey and being named to the Newark Star Ledger All-Prep Team. He too will likely redshirt this season.
Diaco has said that he wants an offense that features multiple tight ends and with a promising freshman class, the future of the position is looking up. Right now however it is a huge question mark. McQuillan is the only tight end on the roster who has caught a pass in college, and is the clear leader of the group. He was able to learn the position under Ryan Griffin, now on the Houston Texans, and John Delahunt who is playing in the CFL for the Ottawa Redblacks, and is now expected to mentor the rest of the tight ends. If this group gets a breakout performance from one of these freshman, it could quickly turn a position that was very thin last year, into a deep position with big, athletic weapons for Cochran and Whitmer to use in exploiting opposing defensive mismatches.