116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — First-year Iowa State tight ends coach Taylor Mouser has a diabolical plan: Have his tight ends take over the offense.
“I’m always trying to get another tight end on the field,” Mouser said. “Don’t tell (running backs and receivers coach Nate) Scheelhaase any of this stuff but I’m trying to get a fourth tight end into the game. Then I’m trying to get (quarterback) Brock (Purdy) out and get another tight end into the game in his spot.”
Mouser referenced the Dylan Soehner-to-Chase Allen, tight end-to-tight end pass last year as a reason for no longer needing Purdy, or any other quarterback for that matter, in the offense. It’s also notable that Easton Dean was recruited as a quarterback to Iowa State before making the switch to tight end during his freshman year while he was redshirting.
“I’m slowly getting the quarterback, running back and wideouts off the field and we’ll be going to an all-tight end offense,” Mouser said.
“Obviously I’m joking, but seriously, I love having as many tight end options as we do.”
Soehner decided to enter into the NFL Draft after his senior year last season but the Cyclones return Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, two all-conference tight ends, with Kolar being an All-American.
“We’re not necessarily trying to replace Dylan Soehner at that third tight end spot, because you can’t replace Dylan, but we’re just trying to see what everybody is good at,” Mouser said. “It’s about putting Charlie and Chase in the best position to be successful and have the other guy or guys fill in behind them.”
Jared Rus and Dean both saw time last season within the offense. Rus was used primarily as a blocking tight end or F-Back when Soehner missed time at the end of the season with an injury. Dean played in all 12 games — mostly on special teams — but did have one reception for 25 yards.
After Dean’s redshirt season, Campbell actually said that the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Dean will be the best tight end to ever play at Iowa State.
“He’s an impressive guy and he’s fun to watch,” Mouser said of Dean. “He pushes Charlie and Chase and I’m excited for the weight-room growth that he’s had. He’s going to have a role on this football team, for sure. He has such a unique skill set and he has all these tools that we can work with. He’s really talented.
“Easton Dean can run every route in our offense.”
The options for the third tight end don’t stop at Rus and Dean. The Cyclones also have junior college transfer DeShawn Hanika, a sophomore who played on special teams last year as well as early enrollee Tyler Moore, who was a four-star recruit from Des Moines.
“I think (Hanika) is a guy that can do some of the things that Soehner did in the run game,” Mouser said. “He can move people when he’s blocking, he can set the edge and he’s a vertical threat for us, as well, because he can run, too — he’s a fun guy. Seeing his skill set on offense is something I’m looking forward to seeing.”
And even though Moore is just in the first months of his college career, he’s already wowing the staff with his physical abilities.
“Tyler is one of the strongest kids on our football team already,” Mouser said. “He never stops working. Obviously the speed of the game is something he’s still getting used to but certainly he’s physically almost there. Him being here early is allowing him to learn the playbook and we pretty much have two extra tight end coaches in Charlie and Chase, so him being able to see those two and their work ethic is invaluable.”
It’s notable that the same stuff was said about running back Breece Hall before he burst on the scene as a true freshman. Physically, he was ready from the moment he stepped on campus — it was all about him slowing the game down enough and understanding the playbook.
Kolar and Allen have the No. 1 and No. 2 spots locked down. And Mouser mentioned four names who could fill in at that third spot.
Campbell likes to redshirt guys if at all possible, so Moore would have to prove to be the clear No. 3 option for him to see the field regularly — remember, players can play in four games and still keep their redshirts.
That brings the total number of options for that third tight end spot to three and given their different skill sets, it’s easy to imagine a season where the Cyclones play at least two guys at that third tight end spot.
“It all depends on who we want to get the ball, what our matchups are and if we are putting a third guy in, are they setting an edge for us or lead blocking for us in the run game or is it someone we can get a good size matchup for and let Brock get him the ball?” Mouser said. “When we’re thinking about where that third or fourth tight end might be, I try to plug those guys into the best area that fits them and where they can help the play be the most successful it can.
“Sometimes when we get in games, (offensive coordinator Tom) Manning and Campbell start calling plays off the cuff and we have to move some guys and stuff around. It all depends on what we’re trying to get out of the play and who is good in certain spots. Luckily for myself and this team, we have some pretty good guys who can do those things.”
The tight end position in general is already known for having versatile players, and Mouser may have been joking about taking over the offense, but given the depth and skill sets of the position group, it’d be fun to see what would happen if he did attempt a takeover of the offense — even just for a play.