In today’s edition of the Victory Bell Roundtable, we continue to make predictions about different aspects of Penn State’s 2014 season. Earlier this week we debated which running back would receive the most carries. Like that position, the tight end position is also crowded with talented players.
Below you’ll find the staff’s predictions for which tight end will lead the team in carries in 2014.
Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr.
Former head coach Bill O’Brien transformed the tight end position at Penn State from a primarily blocking role to an important part of the passing attack. New head coach James Franklin inherits several talented tight ends who’ll, as he mentioned in his pre-training camp press conference, will need to help make up for the loss of production at wide receiver.
Kyle Carter, Adam Breneman and Jesse James are all three experienced tight ends who’ll see plenty of action this season. They all bring a different skill set and can help in different situations. While I think James will lead the group in touchdowns due to his large red zone presence, I think Breneman will be the one to ultimately lead in total catches.
Breneman and fellow sophomore Christian Hackenberg began to form a great chemistry at the end of last season and I expect that to continue this year. James will likely be the popular pick to lead in catches, but I’m going with Breneman because I expect James to garner a lot of attention from opposing defenses, opening up space for Breneman to become one of Hackenberg’s favorite targets.
Staff Writer Eric Sion
Penn State’s tight end unit is one of the best in the country. I think that the guy who’s the best of the bunch and the guy who will have the most catches in 2014 is Jesse James. Standing at 6-7, 254 pounds, James is a huge target for Christian Hackenberg and he has great hands. The junior also creates lots of mismatch problems for opposing defenses, which is important for an offense that lacks a proven threat at wide receiver on the outside. Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman are fine tight ends in their own right, but James will have the most catches among Penn State tight ends this season.
Staff Writer Jeff Jezewski
Possibly the most intriguing position on the offensive side of the ball this year, the tight end position is loaded with talent and promise. While the talented group of tight ends didn’t quite live up to their billing last season, this year should be different. With no go-to wide receiver to lean on, a la Allen Robinson, the talented trio of tight ends will need to be highly productive.
As far as which tight end will pull down the most catches, I’m going to go with Jesse James. Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman are extremely talented and useful in their own rights, but James is a different type of animal. The 6-foot-7 Glassport, PA product snagged 25 balls last year and I expect that number to spike. James is able to make tough catches over the middle while also possessing the quickness to beat linebackers and safeties up the seam. From his freshman to sophomore seasons, James production rose 10 catches and I expect at least that to happen again.
Look for around 40 catches for Jesse James with Carter and Breneman falling just short of that number respectively.
Staff Writer Corey Hunter
The leader of the tight end pack should once again be first team preseason All-Big Ten player Jesse James. He was the teams third leading receiver in 2013. This year I expect him to build upon his 25 catches and 3 touchdowns from last season. I think he pulls in 30 receptions and scores 5 touchdowns this year.
I look for Kyle Carter to put up numbers similar to his 2013 season where he caught 18 passes and scored 1 touchdown.
With the loss of Allen Robinson to the NFL, I expect Coach Donovan to utilize the experience at the tight end position this coming fall. With the implementation of new wideouts and a new offensive scheme, I believe the tight ends will be a popular option for Christian Hackenberg. He’s had a full season to get comfortable with them and develop the rapport that is necessary to succeed. With three returning players, the return of injured tight end Brent Wilkerson, and the addition of one of the top tight ends in the country in the Class of 2014 in Mike Gesicki, these guys can expect to rotate series and plays throughout much of the season.
With that being said, I think Jesse James will once again lead the Penn State tight ends in pass catches. The 6-foot-7, 272-pound tight end is a match up nightmare for opposing defenses and he has the speed and quickness to get up the field in a hurry and create separation. I expect sophomore Adam Breneman to get more involved in the passing game this season and think he and Kyle Carter will put up similar stats. Last season at Vanderbilt, Coach Franklin’s tight ends only accounted for 20 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He’d be foolish if he didn’t take advantage of this crop of tight ends as their size and speed can be a tremendous advantage for a team that lost its top receiver from a season ago.