5 tips for high school tight ends
Learn 5 absolutes about what it is to be a high school tight end.
Photo Credit: Crystal Chatham
By Christopher Graham
What is it to be a tight end in high school football?
While many coaches from many programs have several expectations for their tight end, here are 5 universal tips as to what it is to be a great tight end.
First and foremost, it is important to note that a tight end is not the glamour position of a wide receiver or split end, nor is it the brutal position of an offensive lineman. But at one time or another, usually at a critical point in the game, a tight end will be called upon to perform the duties of both positions.
Versatility is the key. At all times the tight end must be able to perform the dual role of blocker and receiver, and must be quick enough yet strong enough to do both. There is no other player in the offensive scheme who is relied upon to execute so meticulously such diverse talents.
Blocking is of course a top priority, but not just the grunt/grudge blocking of an O lineman. A tight end is hopefully a bit more nimble than an O lineman, and is therefore called upon to do some downfield blocking, especially with screens and sweeps. This is where a true tight end begins to drool, because he is now being matched up against someone in the secondary they can man-handle, or a linebacker who is equal to the task. Either way, a tight end in this scenario can show his worth by plowing the road for his running back with great downfield blocking.
Short, precise, “sit-down” route running is also a great asset, with soft hands being a priority. In this scenario, the tight end will usually be guarded by a plodding linebacker that will allow the tight end to catch the ball, then try to separate him from the ball. With soft hands and precise rout running, yards-after-the-catch will be the most obvious result.
Becoming the occasional “go-to” possession receiver in short yardage situations will also make a tight end invaluable in the offensive scheme. Toughness over the middle will be the key here, as hopefully most defenders will forego tackling the tight end and attempt to make the great hit. Surviving this, any tight end worth his salt will gain a handful of extra yards while leaving his defenders in his wake.
Lastly, tight ends become golden in the red zone. With the short field, a tight end can become dually important as a primary receiver and a primary blocker. Occasionally, some teams employ a “Jumbo” set in the red zone that includes 2 tight ends, illustrating how important a tight end becomes inside the 10 yard line.
Versatility in being both a receiver and a compliment to the offensive line, screen and sweep blocking, “sit-down” precision route running, possession / third down receiving, and Red Zone flexibility are all 5 useful tips to becoming not just a good tight end, but a great one. With an enourmous amount of dedication and courage, one can go down in history as the next Mark Bavaro, Mark Chmura, or even Ozzie Newsome.
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