Welcome back to our annual series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, or critical condition heading into fall camp, which opens Aug. 5. Next up? The tight ends!
- Key returners: Bryce Wolma (Sr.), Stacey Marshall (Jr.)
- Key additions: Alex Lines (Fr.), Colby Powers (Fr.)
- Key departures: None
Is this the year Arizona finally makes the tight end a viable part of the offense?
It’s an annual declaration/hope that the Wildcats will take advantage of the most overlooked position in sports, yet in the past three seasons the tight ends have only combined for 20 receptions. Compare that to 2017, when Bryce Wolma’s 28 catches as a true freshman were the most by a UA TE since Terence Miller had 29 in 2010.
A good indication the tight end will play a bigger role was the hiring of Jordan Paopao to coach the position, along with special teams. And his presence instantly reaped benefits as he helped Arizona land one of his former players at UNLV, Alex Lines, from the NCAA transfer portal. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Lines was active in spring practice and will challenge Wolma for the No. 1 spot, though double or even triple tights isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Will Plummer: 'We're going to implement some three tight-end sets. A lot of time the tight end is the first or second progression.'— Brian Pedersen (@realBJP) March 27, 2021
Arizona football fans: pic.twitter.com/JmP0vjFf6t
Lines is one of two new TEs on the roster, the other being incoming freshman Colby Powers, a converted quarterback. They’re just as much in the mix as holdovers Stacey Marshall and Roberto Miranda, neither of which contributed offensively in 2020.
Arizona has the numbers at the position, but it really comes down to whether it actually takes advantage of this. The tight ends were involved in the offense during the Spring Game, but until it happens in contests that count the jury is still out.