Position Preview: Tight Ends
Key Players Lost: None
Biggest question entering 2014: Can Nick O’Leary repeat his 2013 performance?
Nick O’Leary burst onto the national scene with a strong 2013 season. He finished fourth on the team with 557 receiving yards on 33 catches. He also scored seven touchdowns including three in week one against Pittsburgh. O’Leary is a true receiving tight end, but he has improved as a blocker in each year of his career. With the departure of Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin at receiver, O’Leary should see an even larger role in the offense in 2014. As long as he stays healthy O’Leary should have no problem replicating his 2013 performance. He was a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end, last season and he will enter 2014 as a favorite to win the award.
Last season Florida State’s big problem at tight end was depth. Jeremy Kerr and Kevin Haplea both missed the entire season with injuries. Outside of O’Leary, Florida State’s only other tight end was converted defensive end Giorgio Newberry. The Seminoles won’t have the same problem in 2014. Kerr and Haplea are both back and healthy. Florida State also signed two talented freshmen in Ryan Izzo and Mavin Sanders.
Kerr and Haplea are both blocking tight ends. They will have a bigger impact in the running game than as receivers in the passing game. Izzo and Sanders on the other hand are athletic players who can contribute as receivers. Florida State should be set at tight end in 2014. O’Leary is one of the top tight ends in the country and the versatility of Florida State’s other tight ends should enable the offense to be even more creative in 2014. Haplea is expected to start the season as the No. 2 tight end behind O’Leary.
By: Brandon O’Connor