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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Previews - Tight End

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The Gophers are rock solid at the tight end position

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 07 Minnesota at Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With spring football practice at Minnesota under way after kicking off on Monday, March 29, we are breaking down each position group throughout the month of April.

2021 Tight End Roster

Returning Starter(s): Ko Kieft, Bryce Witham, and Brevyn Spann-Ford
Other Returners: Austin Henderson
Spring Enrollee(s): None
Fall Enrollee(s): Jameson Geers

2020 Season In Review

Remember when new offensive co-coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. spent much of the preseason talking about how the tight end was going to be utilized more in the passing game? And then we only had to wait until the Gophers’ second offensive play of the season to see it happen?

That was awesome.

Sadly, there was not much more where that came from. Kieft only caught one other pass the rest of the season. Bryce Witham recorded three receptions for 30 receiving yards. Brevyn Spann-Ford, who has been touted as a formidable red zone threat due to his size and athleticism, was only utilized once in that capacity and — what do you know — it was for a touchdown. It also amounted to his only reception of the season:

We don’t always get what we want. Such is life. And while the Gophers’ tight ends might not catch as many passes as we’d like, they are outstanding blockers. They seem to relish their thankless role delivering punishing blocks on defenders, and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful that Kieft and Witham both opted to come back for more, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility. The tight end room would be awful lonely without them.

Only Jake Paulson decided to hang up his cleats after last season, so the core group of Kieft, Witham, and Spann-Ford is intact. We’ve not seen nor heard much from Austin Henderson, who was a true freshman last year. Incoming freshman Jameson Geers will be on campus in the fall.

This is probably the most boring position group to watch this spring, but that’s only because they’re all known commodities, with the exception of Henderson.

Spring Watch List

  1. Take it easy. I know the tight ends like to be the hammer as blockers, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t bludgeon any of their own teammates in the spring. Slip out for a pass every play instead. They’ll throw the ball to you eventually. The tight ends also need to keep themselves healthy because this is not a deep position group.