For years now, we’ve heard about the Arizona Wildcats trying to utilize their tight ends in their offense.
It hasn’t happened, but maybe 2017 will finally be the year it does, and Trevor Wood, No. 1 on the depth chart, would be the beneficiary.
“(He’s) having a really good camp. He’s healthy,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said Saturday. “He had a really good spring, and this is the best Trevor has looked in his career.”
Wood, an athletic 6-foot-5 Arizona native, missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury and, after being limited in spring ball, was behind Josh Kern on the depth chart in 2016.
Before Wood’s injury in 2015, he was a standout in the team’s spring game, hauling in a 24-yard touchdown pass.
“He’s obviously a guy we know we can rely on,” Rodriguez said, also mentioning Jamie Nunley as an option at the position.
Rodriguez said Arizona has implemented some new things into its offense that should create more favorable matchups for its tight ends.
“The whole key when you get a guy that’s 6-5, 250 (like Wood) is that you do want those matchups,” he said. “Whether it’s a small [defensive back] or a bigger linebacker.”
That said, perhaps the most important reason why this could (finally) be the year Arizona’s tight ends make an impact is because Calvin Magee is now coaching the unit.
Magee, who played tight end in college and the NFL, has been coaching running backs since arriving at Arizona in 2012.
However, with the departure of Charlie Ragle to California this offseason, it opened up an opportunity for Magee to show the tight ends the ropes.
Magee said during spring ball that he’s made the tight ends pay “extra attention to fundamentals and attention to why.”
“Why they need to be able to run their routes with some speed but with precision and how to set edges on guys in their routes,” he said. “I think the attention to detail is the most important thing I think they’re picking up right now and not just plays.
“They were learning their plays, but how to get to the plays is one thing. And when I studied all their film that’s the first thing I noticed. The fundamentals just weren’t where they should’ve been.”
Wood only has seven career catches for 49 yards, but improved health and new coaching could be a recipe for success for the redshirt junior.
“He’s stronger, he’s more healthy, he’s in great shape and we’re doing a lot more 11 personnel things than we ever have, so he’s probably more tired than he’s been as well,” Rodriguez said, with a laugh.
“We’re running a lot more routes in practice than they (the tight ends) ever have, but it’s been good for him.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire