TCU's offense gets a lot of credit for being one of the most innovative in college football and for good reason. However, the tight end position has not been one of the great benefactors of this innovate approach to offensive game planning and I can't help but think that's a little humorous. If anything, it's at least a little ironic.
If Cumbie and Meacham had coached TCU 50 years ago in the Southwest Conference, they probably would have used the tight end all the time. Taking a player who had the skills of an offensive lineman and a receiver and utilizing them as both? How innovative! Think of the possibilities! Right? Anyway, I think 1960s Cumbie and Meacham would agree with me.
Tight Ends: 2015
Last year the tight ends did have their moments, at least more than the previous year. I hear they call that a trend and that it's a useful way to predict future performance. Last year Dominic Merka and Charlie Reid saw most of the action. Even combined, their performance didn't make for an impressive stat line, but it did seem like the ball went to the tight end in important situations more than in 2014.
Dominic Merka was the starter last season at tight end, and he saw most of the action. He caught a total of four passes for 54 yards and scored a touchdown against SMU. That touchdown mattered, but mostly because that SMU game got waaaay closer than any of us would have liked. His biggest catch of the year came in the Monsoon Bowl against Baylor, when he brought in a seven yard reception on 2nd and 13 to set TCU up with a manageable third down. The Frogs would end up scoring on that drive, and, you know, winning the game.
Tight Ends: 2016
Charlie Reid backed up Merka for most of last year, but he saw action in nine games, recording three receptions for 24 yards and one touchdown. Again, it was a touchdown that mattered. TCU was down to Iowa State 21-14 in the second quarter, and Reid's touchdown tied things up. That was Reid's second career touchdown, after catching one against SMU as a redshirt freshman in 2014. Catching touchdowns against SMU is nice, but when Cumbie and Meacham are drawing up plays to the tight end in the first half of a Big 12 game on the road, well that's something else entirely.
Reid was listed as the starter on TCU's post-spring depth chart, but there are three other tight ends on TCU's roster heading into the fall. Cole Novak is a junior who came to the Frogs from Texas State and saw action in one game last year, making him the most experienced backup on the roster right now. Cole Hunt, a fellow junior, joins him as a graduate transfer from Rice. Hunt made a few starts for the Owls during his career, so he may be capable of challenging for some snaps as well.
Probably the most physically gifted tight end on the roster is a freshman signee from the class of 2016, Artayvious Lynn. He's listed on TCU's roster at 6'6", 247 lbs, making him already the second biggest tight end on the team. Even more amazing than that, the freshman clocked in at a 4.55 second 40. We won't know until much later if he's ready to make an impact this fall, but with measurables like that, he might just have Cumbie and Meacham getting innovative with the tight end here in the next few years.