Tolk’s Breakdown: Tight Ends

The tight end position is in dire need of a playmaker to step up, especially with the departure and mismanagement of graduate Jared Pinkney (undrafted, Atlanta Falcons). It will be intriguing to see how new offensive coordinator Todd Fitch decides to use the tight ends, as there was only 1 TE on the roster for LA Tech last year, who didn’t contribute. Unless Fitch changes his scheme from when he was at La Tech, look for our tight ends to line up as wideouts or aid solely in blocking/goal-line formations.

Here we go.

Ben Bresnahan: Bresnahan carved out a niche in the 2019 offense, becoming the second most reliable TE target behind Jared Pinkney. The redshirt sophomore played in 11 games and started vs. SEC rivals Florida and Tennessee. He had 7 catches for 105 yards, flashing athleticism in multiple games. The former 3-star recruit looks to be the starting TE moving forward.

Gavin Schoenwald: The highly touted signee from the same class as Bresnahan played in 11 games last year, seeing snaps on special teams and as a reserve on offense. Schoenwald had a successful high school career, playing TE and QB for Brentwood Academy, ultimately signing in 2018 as the #6 TE in America, per ESPN.com. Schoenwald, a redshirt sophomore, will look to compete for the starting role and for offensive snaps in 2020.

Justin Ball: The former Gonzaga (Washington, DC) standout didn’t see any live reps in 2019. At 6’6”, 230 lbs, Ball is a big target and will look to contribute in any way he can this fall. He’ll be a redshirt freshman in 2020, and Vanderbilt fans hope he’s added muscle during his redshirt year on campus.

Joel DeCoursey: Like Ball, DeCoursey didn’t see any playing time in 2019, taking a redshirt season to bulk up. The former 3-star prospect out of Indiana has good size (6’4”, 235 lbs) and will look to crack the rotation on special teams or offense. 

Diego LaMonica: Listed at 6’4”, 240 lbs, true freshman Diego LaMonica will enroll with a collegiate tight end-like body. The 3-star signee from the class of 2020 graded as one of the Commodores’ higher signees and with a new system being implemented by Todd Fitch, look for LaMonica to have every bit of opportunity to contribute as any other TE on this list.

Kyle White: White bolsters TE depth for the Commodores. The economics major will be a junior this fall.

Reece Boggs: Boggs didn’t see the field in his true freshman season of 2019. He’ll look to add depth and move into the rotation.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to project what to expect from the tight end position in 2020 for Vanderbilt. Fitch may incorporate the TE (more than he traditionally did at LA Tech) into his schemes at Vandy, especially considering the raw talent Vanderbilt possesses in Bresnahan, who made some athletic catches in 2019 (think diving catch vs Ole Miss), and Schoenwald should be ready to contribute in a larger role this year.

Similar to the uncertainty at QB in 2020, I am excited to watch how Fitch incorporates tight ends into the offense moving forward, since I believe there is clear evidence for the potential that Bresnahan and Schoenwald possess. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, develops into more blocking-dominant TE roles that have been held by players like Cody Markel and Braden Kopp.

Hopefully we see at least 2-3 tight ends register significant playing time/catches on the season, especially with the expectation that the ball will be spread out to different playmakers in space in 2020.

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