As it was last season, one of the deeper position groups for Georgia are the tight ends. Coaches Shane Beamer and Jim Chaney have a number of guys to work with that would make them the envy of any postion coach or offensive coordinator. Let’s take a look at the tight ends in our UGA football’s post-spring depth chart.
LAST YEAR’S PRODUCTION
Last year, freshman Isaac Nauta burst onto the scene between the hedges hauling in the most receptions for a tight end, with 29 catches for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns, since Arty Lynch reeled in 30 for 459 yards and 5 TDs back in 2013. In fact, Nauta’s performance is one of the best for a freshman tight end over the last 25 years for the Bulldogs. At the very least, it is as good as Orson Charles’s freshman season in 2009, when he caught 23 passes for 374 yards and 3 TDs.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney took some heat from fans over Georgia’s offensive production last season, and there was even criticism that he didn’t use the tight ends enough. Last year, those tight ends caught 41 passes for 485 yards and 4 TDs as a group, and due to the struggles of the offensive line, that production came despite Chaney having to use them to help with blocking. For comparison, the 2016 group had the most production from the tight ends at Georgia since the 2011 season that then Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo and John Lilly coached to 45 receptions for 675 yards and 9 TDs.
Another factor that makes this Bulldog tight ends corp so deep in depth is their overall experience. Nauta played in 13 games and started 5 for Georgia last season and along with senior Jeb Blazevich, who has played in 39 games with 33 starts, brings a lot of experience back for the Bulldogs for 2017. When you add in junior Jackson Harris, who has played in 25 games with 2 starts, and senior Jordan Davis, who has played in 23 games, Georgia could boast one of the most experienced and deepest tight end groups in the country this fall. And to put the icing on the cake so to speak, add in athletic sophomore Charlie Woerner to the mix, who played in 12 games and made 2 starts, that is enough to make any tight end coach drool.
AULDEN BYNUM, THE OVERLOOKED OL/TE
Speaking of depth and veterans, senior Aulden Bynum is a utility player for the Bulldogs practicing and playing both on the offensive line and at tight end. While he isn’t the receiving threat that Blazevich, Nauta, or Woerner are, Bynum is a dependable and good blocker who the coaches can utilize in heavy packages for short yardage and goal line situations. Over the last two years, Bynum’s playing time and contribution to the team has increased where he has played in 23 games and made 3 starts. And he is over the 300 lbs mark this year per Isaiah Wynn.
The Bulldogs didn’t sign a scholarship tight end for 2017, but do have preferred walk-on, 6 foot 6 and 241 lbs Wix Patton from Landmark Christian High School who will be joining the team this summer. Patton played both varsity football and basketball for the Fairburn, GA War Eagles and is very athletic for his size. Unless there are significant injuries to the tight ends, I don’t expect him to see much playing time this season, but don’t be surprised to see him in the rotation in a couple of years, especially with Blazevich, Bynum, and Davis graduating after the 2017 season.
Look for senior Jeb Blazevich and sophomore Isaac Nauta to be top two Dogs at tight end, but Beamer and Chaney can sub in senior Jordan Davis, junior Jackson Harris, or sophomore Charlie Woerner without missing a beat. Like Nauta, Woerner is a mismatch nightmare for defensive backs and linebackers when he goes out as a receiver. I expect Nauta’s receiving numbers to increase from last year. He was the third leading WR on the team, and with Isaiah McKenzie’s departure and the coaches looking for a go to receiver, why not a TE? Don’t be surprised if Nauta approaches 40 receptions and 500 yards receiving. Likewise, Woerner’s numbers should also increase if he stays healthy. He battled through some nagging injuries last season. Both Nauta and Woerner had a very good spring camp. And what about Blazevich?
No. 83’s receiving numbers have declined each season since his freshman year in 2014 when he caught 18 passes for 269 yards and 2 TDs. Since then, he has put up 15 receptions for 144 yards and 1 TD as a sophomore and then last year as a junior, just 6 receptions for 69 yards and no TDs. Part of that has to do with the struggles of the offensive line the last couple of seasons and Blazevich being used more as a blocker as well as the fact that he has been through 3 offensive coordinators and two tight end position coaches. With some continuity in the coaching staff and hopefully Eason improving as a sophomore at QB, expect a solid season for the senior.
With so many tight ends, and all these guys will get playing time in 2017 if healthy, I also expect the ‘love’ to be spread around. As with last season, the only thing that can really hold back this group is if the offensive line struggles and the coaches have to keep them in to help with blocking. So without further ado, here is our projected post-spring tight end depth chart.
BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED’S PROJECTED POST-SPRING DEPTH CHART: TIGHT ENDS
TE Group 1
1a. Jeb Blazevich | Sr. | 6 foot 5, and 242 lbs
1b. Isaac Nauta | So. | 6 foot 4, and 246 lbs
TE Group 2
2a. Charlie Woerner | So. | 6 foot 5, and 251 lbs
2b. Jackson Harris | Jr. | 6 foot 6, and 247 lbs
TE Group 3
3a. Jordan Davis | Sr. | 6 foot 4, and 240 lbs
3b. Aulden Bynum | Sr. | 6 foot 5, and 302 lbs
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