In the ever-evolving game of football certain positions look very different than they once did. The best example of this may be the tight end position. In the past, tight ends in many ways were glorified tackles, who from time to time would get the ball dumped off to them when all the receivers, backs and the guy who sold popcorn were covered. Today, tight ends are weapons used by clever o-coordinators to create matchup problems on the field. Move Antonio Gates around and see who gets him in coverage. If it is the linebacker, Gates is faster, if it is the defensive back, Gates is bigger. One only has to look at Colorado's two top tight ends from last season to bring this point to the prep level. Both Steve Watson of Mullen and Ryan Hill of Arvada West were the type of athletes who brought great size, speed and athleticism to the tight end position. Although not deep, the tight end position in Colorado for the class of 2008 has the type of athletes that can fit nicely into the continued evolution of the position.
It is not surprising that two of Colorado's best tight ends are also two of Colorado's best returning hoops stars. Where better for a big man to hone his skills than on the hardwoods. Coaching legend Joe Paterno is well known picking tight ends, some of whom had never played football before, right off the basketball floor. If coach Paterno were at a game being played by Zach Tiedgen of ThunderRidge High School he would like what he sees. The 6-4 222 pound Tiedgen was an All-League performer in the Mountain Plains League last season as a tight end and defensive end. Tiedgen is also a force for Grizzly basketball as the inside presence on a team that went 22 and 5 last season. Currently, Tiedgen has offers from Colorado State, Wyoming and San Diego State and is receiving interest from Nebraska, Washington State and Boise State.
Along with Tiedgen, V.J. Holmes of Doherty High School in Colorado Springs is also an athlete that was the skill set to perform at a high level on the field and court. Last season, Holmes was Honorable Mention All League as a tight end in the South Metro League and 2nd Team All-State in basketball. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Holmes' frame that can add more weight, 4.7 speed and inherent athleticism have caught the eye of various programs.
Also in the South Metro is tight end Mat Birkeness of Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado. Birkeness was 1st Team All-League as a tight end last season and more than likely will play defense at the college level but I'm sure some offensive coach somewhere would like to use Birkeness' 6-4 size and 4.58 speed to create matchup problems. Another tight end of note that will more than likely play defense in college is Will Pericak of Boulder High School. The 6-4 235 pound Pericak was All-League as a tight end on the strength of eighteen receptions and two touchdowns.
Two intriguing prospects at the tight end position are Mark Mansbridge of Pueblo East and Calvin Manago of Overland High School. The 6-6 Mansbridge caught twenty balls as a wideout his sophomore season for East and then moved to tight end last year. The 6-7 230 pound Manago and out of state transfer to Overland should catch attention on his size alone.
Others To Watch:
Casey Mills Bear Creek
Ty Rosco Dakota Ridge
Koby Witter Golden
Alex Paicurich Standley Lake
Brennan Fox ThunderRidge