AMES — Sophomore tight end Charlie Kolar showed flashes of his potential last season as a freshman when he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for catching 11 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
He has turned it up another level this season.
Kolar caught three passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 Iowa State win Saturday at Texas Tech.
Kolar is No. 23 Iowa State’s third leading receiver with 398 yards, he has the second most receptions (26) and is tied for first in receiving touchdowns (4).
Iowa State (5-2, 3-1) was looking for a big-bodied red-zone target to replace Hakeem Butler, and it appears Kolar is the guy.
Against Texas Tech (3-4, 1-3), the 6-foot-6, 252-pound Kolar won a jump ball against a smaller Red Raider defender in the end zone for his first touchdown. For his second, he found himself open in the back of the end zone.
“Charlie is a just a long athlete,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “He has really good ball skills, he’s a guy that understands spacing because of his basketball background. He was more of a wide receiver than he was a tight end in high school and give credit to him because he’s worked really hard to become a good blocker.
“He’s made himself into an all-around football player and if you want to be a great tight end, you have to do it all really well. He’s working toward that right now.”
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Kolar is by far the Big 12’s best receiving tight end at this point of the season — Texas’ Cade Brewer is the second-leading receiving tight end with 10 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown.
Pro Football Focus has Kolar graded as the second-best tight end in the FBS.
Kolar isn’t the only tight end producing for the Cyclones.
Chase Allen has the fourth-most receptions by a Big 12 tight end with seven for 64 yards and one touchdown.
Dylan Soehner, who is also Iowa State’s fullback and is mostly used for lead blocking, has four catches for 65 yards.
For a position that was decimated when Campbell arrived in Ames (Iowa State didn’t have a single scholarship tight end on the roster), the staff’s patience has certainly been rewarded with three quality tight ends.
It also helps that offensive coordinator Tom Manning took was the Indianapolis Colts tight ends coach last season, so he was able to figure out how to best use and coach that position.
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