Welcome to a new series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious, or critical condition heading into fall camp. Next up are the tight ends.
- Returning Starters: Bryce Wolma
- Backups: None
- Key Departures: None
- New Additions: Roberto Miranda, Stacey Marshall Jr.
Is this the year we see tight end usage increase? We ask ourselves every year and for the most part we end up disappointed.
Bryce Wolma had a stellar freshman year under Rich Rodriguez, and it seemed like he was on pace to be Arizona’s best tight end since Rob Gronkowski after hauling in 28 balls for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
That has been followed up by five receptions in each of the last two years and a total of 129 yards in Noel Mazzone’s offense. Wolma is a great in-line blocker and was used a good amount in the run game, but it just didn’t seem like there was a featured role in the passing game carved out for him.
So back to our annual question about tight ends. Perhaps the addition of Stacey Marshall Jr. gives Mazzone incentive to scheme for a tight end, now having two solid tight ends.
Marshall was an absolute steal in the 2020 class, with Arizona being his lone Power-5 offer as a two-star recruit. He’s an absolute grinder in the run game, incredibly strong with a 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. His size comes with athleticism that allows him to a viable target in the passing game.
If Arizona still doesn’t game plan for a tight end, in spread offense, with Bryce Wolma and a skill set like Marshall, I have no faith in a tight ever being heavily involved in Mazzone’s system.
Roberto Miranda is another newcomer who has some intrigue, though he is listed as a wide receiver. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound German also possesses great size and even better speed and athleticism. He’s a bit of a wild card as a foreigner, but if he can coached up on his routes and get physical, he could be a very solid product.
This group goes as far as Mazzone takes them. The talent is there with Wolma, and they have only added stronger pieces to the position group. Stacey Marshall can be such a great player. We just need the game plan to give him that opportunity.