AMES — In the past, when Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell has talked about the tight end position, he usually led off with the position’s youth and development
Tight ends coach Alex Golesh was sick of that. He wants the excuse to stop.
“We’ve been waiting for those guys to grow up,” Golesh said. “And I told coach, his opening comments on the tight ends is always, ‘They’re young and they’re getting older.’ I literally slammed my book down in that room and I said, ‘If I hear that one more time, that we’re young or that we’re getting older — I’m sick of it. This is the third year now for all of those guys.
“We’re not young anymore and I’m sick of hearing about it to be honest with you. They’re third-year players and they need to play like they’re third-year players.”
Redshirt freshman Chase Allen was the only tight end to catch a pass last year. He totaled four catches for 39 yards a season ago.
Even with his lack of receptions, Allen was named second-team all-Big 12 last year — mostly because of his blocking prowess, which was impressive given the fact he only weighed 220 pounds.
This offseason, Allen has already added 25 pounds. Golesh added they were 25 good pounds, too.
Allen essentially ate a meal every three hours, which he said isn’t as fun or easy as it sounds.
But Allen and the coaches believe the extra weight will help him in the blocking game.
“When you’re undersized, you really have to rely on your technique more than anything else,” Allen said. “(Now), having more force behind it, you can have more vertical push with it and you feel more in control of your body and the guy you’re blocking.”
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But the biggest jump for Allen and the tight ends might be in the receiving game. Golesh and Campbell both talked about their ability to catch balls, but they weren’t in a position to take recpeitons away from senior receivers Allen Lazard, Trever Ryen or Marchie Murdock.
Now, there are a lot of receptions available.
“There’s only so many balls, and by the way, you have an All-American in the back field that you have to get it to,” Golesh said. “They’re seeing the light now, in that sense, that there are balls that can come my way. I think that’s the next step for Chase, to prove he should be the one getting balls thrown his way.”
At 6-foot-7, Allen has the size to be a matchup problem if he splits out wide. So does fellow tight end Dylan Soehner, who is a massive 6-foot-7 and 272 pounds.
Campbell, Golesh and Allen all said Soehner moves exceptionally well for his size.
“There aren’t a lot of guys on the perimeter that can measure with (Allen or I) — height, weight or strength,” Soehner said. “We create a mismatch out there and that’s something we look forward doing.”
When Golesh and Campbell got to Iowa State, they had to rebuild the tight ends room from the ground up. But now they’ve developed the players — in both size and skill — and there are finally enough passes to go around for the tight ends to make an impact in the passing game.
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