2012 FSU Preview: Tight Ends
Longtime Seminole fans will no doubt remember the name Pat Carter. Carter was perhaps the greatest tight end in the history of FSU football. The 1987 Sporting News first-team All-American caught 71 passes for 777 yards and 7 touchdowns during his time in Tallahassee, and was a first round pick for the Detroit Lions in the 1988 NFL Draft. It’s no secret that the tight end position at FSU isn’t a glorified one; at least it hasn’t been for a while. That could all change this year, as Jimbo Fisher has a talented group of both receivers and blockers that could make a big impact, and one player in particular that could possibly join Carter as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play for the Garnet and Gold before it’s all said and done.
If you watched any FSU games last year, then you no doubt have heard the name Nick O’Leary. If you watch any FSU games this year, you will no doubt hear the name Nick O’Leary. There will also be two things that the announcers will remind you of about O’Leary during every single FSU game. A) He is the grandson of golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and B) O’Leary doesn’t wear any gloves or armbands, he’s “old school.” O’Leary is “old school,” and he’s tough, fearless, and exactly the type of player that FSU needed at the TE position. He’s a throwback to the days of Pat Carter, and has the talent and upside to be one of the best to ever play at Doak Campbell Stadium. O’Leary (Palm Beach, Fl. /Dwyer) was the #1 ranked TE prospect in the nation for the class of 2011 by Rivals.com, and saw significant time in his freshman season with the Noles. O’Leary (6’3” / 238 lbs.) has the ability and potential to be a game changer, and the scary thing is that he’s only entering his sophomore season. FSU is loaded with weapons on the offensive side of the ball, and O’Leary is just one more in the arsenal that opposing defenses have to worry about.
The rest of the TE cupboard is pretty stocked for the Seminoles. Just a few weeks ago, FSU welcomed Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea to the program. Haplea, a junior, is a big and physical blocking specialist that could have an impact on the rushing attack. Converted DE Dan Hicks could also see some time spelling O’Leary, and has made a smooth transition from offense to defense. The junior from Oxford, Miss. had a strong spring and adds depth to an already deep position for the Noles. Also in the mix is sophomore Will Tye. Tye is a versatile tight that is solid and blocking and pass catching.
This one is a toss-up. While it will be interesting to see the exact role and impact that Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea will play this season, it is also key to note the signing of true freshman Christo Kourtzidis. Kourtzidis (Orange, Ca. /Lutheran) was ranked as the #8 overall tight end prospect in the 2012 class by Rivals.com. With a pretty full roster at the TE position, it’s likely that the talented Kourtzidis could take a redshirt, learn the system, and be ready to go for the 2013 season. As mentioned, Haplea is said to be more of a physical, blocking TE, which will no doubt help in the rushing attack, but he also has the ability to catch the ball in traffic and could be utilized in some double TE sets this fall. He is already #2 on the depth chart behind O’Leary, so look for Haplea to step in and help right away.
Up Next on 8/15: Wide Receivers