What Does David Yost’s Tight End Look Like & Who Could Fill the Role for Texas Tech?
Coach David Yost is taking over the Texas Tech offense in 2019, and the newest wrinkle will be the use of a tight end. That's right, a tight end.
It's been a long time since a true tight end has been utilized at Texas Tech. Jace Amaro was tight end-esque, but even he was just a big wide receiver. They denied him a chance at The Mackey Award, because the committee that decides who receives it just saw him as a slot receiver.
That isn't what Yost is bringing back.
The Yost version will be a true tight end, expected to block, catch passes and line up in a variety of places. If you look at the Utah State game against BYU from 2018, you can see the many ways that Yost utilizes his tight end.
Here's the entire game if you want to follow Utah State tight end Dax Raymond around the field. Raymond, a 6'5", 250-pound junior, finished the year with 25 catches and 335 yards.
There are multiple formations within the Yost playbook, but generally they all have a tight end and a single running back.
Just to illustrate some possibilities for the tight end here at Texas Tech, take a look at these three examples.
The first formation sees two wide receivers to the left, one to the right, the single back in the backfield, and the tight end off the line of scrimmage with the giant blue circle around him. You could call him an H-back here, but it's just the tight end a step off the line of scrimmage. You can have success in the running game and passing attack out of this formation.
Another example sees the tight end as the slot receiver on the right side of the field. He's off the line of scrimmage and can be a nightmare matchup for a nickel back or a smaller defensive back. Or if a linebacker follows him outside the box, it can create running lanes for the running back.
The final example shows a tight end in his natural environment. He's got his hand in the dirt and blocking on his mind. That doesn't mean he can't run any number of routes, but the advantage here is to try and gain a number in the run blocking scheme. If the tight end is skilled enough, you will definitely see this as a balanced formation.
Are these the only three formations? No. Not by a long shot. But it gives you an idea of how an offense can keep a tight end on the field at all times and not be limited in the looks that they can present to a defense.
The new Texas Tech tight end will need to fulfill these three types of jobs if they're going to excel in the system. Run blocking, receiving, route running and, to an extent, pass blocking will all be needed in the Yost #HairRaid System.
The question for Texas Tech now is, who is going to fill this role in 2019? Let's take a look at a few options.
Already on the Roster
The leading candidate in the clubhouse is easy to spot. Donta Thompson is the only "tight end" on the roster that has filled a role similar to what Coach Yoast employs.
Thompson flashed early in the season as a blocker on the perimeter, but did not excel as a receiver, catching just two passes for 21 yards. There are also several "fullbacks" on the roster that don't fit elsewhere and will get work as the tight end in the new offense.
Some other names listed on the roster that will at least help to supplement the position room are Mason McHorse, Connor Killian, and Tyler Carr.
These guys might explode onto the scene, but it's possible that the next great Texas Tech tight end is not yet on the roster.
JUCO Tight End Options
The next logical option (after the current roster) is to look at the class of JUCO tight ends across the country. One of Wells' and Yost's first offers was the no. two JUCO tight end in the country according to 247.com, Travis Koontz. He was a commit to Pittsburgh early in the process but is now being highly sought after by TCU, Michigan State, Georgia, and others.
Koontz is just one of the many options available though in the 2019 JUCO class.
UPDATE 12/16: Travis Koontz has committed to Texas Tech University.
Freshman 2019 Class Options
Simon Gonzalez, a top 50 tight end prospect from Magnolia West, is already on the commitment list for Texas Tech. He was recruited by the former coaching staff, which was trying to transition into an offense that used a tight end. Now that the position will be heavily used, why would Gonzalez change his mind?
Gonzalez caught 31 passes for 499 yards and five touchdowns as a senior, and had 28 catches for 600 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
The biggest question with Gonzalez is if he'll be ready to play in the Big 12 as a true freshman. If he needs a red-shirt year, he doesn't solve any immediate needs; he just provides hope for the future.
There are 13 incoming freshmen that were offered for the 2019 class by Utah State. There's a chance that some of those offers might have a better chance at committing to Texas Tech than they did to a small Mountain West school like Utah State.
The last option, at least for immediate help, would be at the grad transfer level. I don't know the potential here or what has been happening behind the scenes, but here's a list of players from gradtransfertracker.com that have already given the intention to transfer and could play immediately after a transfer.
Seth Collins and Preston Gordon were both grad transfers to Texas Tech last year.