The University of Miami football team has been called many names over the last three decades, some of them true some not so true. One thing that IS true is that Miami is accurately known as "Tight End U".
Don't believe me? Then just read this partial list of former Hurricane TEs that have gone on to do great things at the highest level of competition in the NFLU:
Glenn Dennison: Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1984 NFL Draft as the 39th pick, and played for the New York Jets (1984) and the Washington Redskins (1987).
Alfredo Roberts: Drafted in the 8th round of 1988 NFL Draft as the 197th pick, and played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1988–1990), and the Dallas Cowboys (1991–1993).
Mondriel Fulcher: Drafted in the 7th round of the 2000 NFL Draft as the 227th pick and played for the Oakland Raiders (2000–2002).
Jeremy Shockey:Drafted in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft as the 14th pick and played for the New York Giants (2002–2007), and the New Orleans Saints (2008–2010). Shockey currently plays for the Carolina Panthers (2011-present).
Kellen Winslow: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2004 NFL Draft as the 6th pick and played for the Cleveland Browns (2004–2008), and currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009–present).
Kevin Everett: Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft as the 86th pick, and played for the Buffalo Bills (2005–2007), suffered a career ending cervical spine injury in 2007, was not removed from the active roster by the Bills until 2008 so he could qualify for full pension.
Buck Ortega: Played for the Washington Redskins (2006), Cleveland Browns (2007), Miami Dolphins (2007), and currently playing for the New Orleans Saints (2008–present).
Jimmy Graham: Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft as the 95th pick, by the New Orleans Saints. Played four years of college basketball at Miami and only one year of football at The U. Currently plays for the New Orleans Saints (2010–present).
This year there are so many players battling for time at tight end that no clear front-runner stands out. The final depth chart at the end of Spring practice was actually pretty interesting considering that the players competing for the position were simply listed alphabetically.
The little talked about and seemingly unheralded Clive Walford may have been the most promising of the group in the Spring. He played extremely well in the scrimmages and in the Spring Game. Walford showed great ability to catch passes in traffic and the willingness to battle for the ball in the air. Many Hurricane insiders have already warned us that Walford is the man to beat at TE for Miami in 2011.
Asante Cleveland was not able to play this Spring due to injury although if he had he certainly would have been able to show his many skills. Cleveland showed big time ability late last season, but missing the Spring could hurt him a lot, especially with a new coaching staff in place.
Blake Ayles, John Calhoun, Corey White and Chase Ford are also in the mix.
Ayles is a tall, lanky pass catcher mutch like Greg Olsen. He transferred from USC under the NCAA rule allowing Trojans to transfer without the usual one year requirement to sit out a season. Ayles impressed some with his excellent route running this Spring.
Calhoun is a converted fullback and White is a converted OL trying to find playing time at TE in 2011. Both are devastating run blockers.
Ford is entering his Senior season in his second year at Miami after transferring from a JUCO. At the beginning of last season Ford was seen as the answer to the TE position at Miami but had a disappointing year that included several drops along the way.
With continued questions at QB this year Miami is expected to keep the ball on the ground a lot in 2011 so it will be especially important to have tight ends that can block effectively in the running game.
In fact we expect the Hurricanes to play two tight ends at the same time in certain situations early in games and with the lead late in games making the TE position critical to this season's success.
Still the question remains: Who will be the next great tight end at TE U?