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Arizona football: A look at the Wildcats’ tight ends entering training camp

4th in a series

arizona-wildcats-football-preseason-preview-tight-ends-tanner-mclachlan-keyan-burnett-2023 Arizona Athletics

Arizona will begin preseason training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 2, a month of workouts and practices to get the Wildcats prepared for the 2023 season that opens Sept. 3 against NAU.

To get you primed for camp, we’re breaking down each position group on the roster. Today we focus on the tight ends, a group that came into its own last season after being almost nonexistent at Arizona for nearly a decade.

Players on roster: 6 (5 scholarship, 1 walk-on)

Projected starter: Tanner McLachlan (Sr.)

When he arrived on campus in early 2022, McLachlan was an FCS transfer who was trying to walk on while still recovering from torn knee ligaments. By the end of last season, he was one of the best tight ends in the Pac-12 and the best the Wildcats have had since Gronk.

The 6-foot-5 Canadian caught 34 passes last fall, the most by a UA TE since Rob Gronkowski had 47 in 2008 and more than all Arizona players at that position had from 2019-21 (27). He also showed off amazing athleticism, pulling off multiple hurdles of would-be tacklers.

McLachlan’s 2022 was such a breakout year that he drew draft interest, but opted to come back to Arizona for one more season to raise that stock. He figures to once again be a big part of the passing game.

Top backup: Keyan Burnett (Soph.)

Burnett was supposed to play the role McLachlan has filled, coming in as a 4-star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class who spent as much time out wide as a receiver as on the edge of the offensive line. He still can be that guy, but he was only targeted five times (with three catches) as a true freshman and spent more time as a blocker than a receiver.

Also expected to contribute: Roberto Miranda (Soph.)

Nicknamed ‘Das Gronk’ by beat writers, the German was primarily used on special teams last year after not playing his first two seasons. A third option is always helpful at this position, though redshirt freshman Tyler Powell and true freshman Dorian Thomas will also get a look in the preseason as the backup to the backup.

Next up: Offensive line