USC football’s tight end depth shouldn’t worry Trojan fans just yet
After losing two tight ends in a week, USC football can still cope at the tight end spot…for now.
It may seem like the sky is falling for USC football at the tight end position, but the Trojans haven’t hit dire straits just yet.
On Tuesday, redshirt senior Daniel Imatorbhebhe opted to enter his name in the transfer portal.
By Thursday, USC lost another tight end as four-star 2020 signee Jack Yary, who reportedly hadn’t turned up to voluntary workouts this summer, seemed to point towards a move to Washington on social media.
Should USC football fans be worried about the tight end position?
Subtracting Imatorbhebhe and Yary from the tight end unit certainly doesn’t help depth.
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The Trojans now have four scholarship tight ends on the roster for 2020: Returning starter Erik Krommenhoek, backup Josh Falo and redshirt freshmen Jude Wolfe and Ethan Rae.
USC knows what it has in Krommenhoek. He’s a reliable enough blocker who won’t be asked to do much in the passing game.
Falo brings more questions to the table. A celebrated pass-catcher coming out of high school, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Whether that’s because USC hasn’t given him a chance, or he hasn’t earned one, is up for debate.
Both Wolfe and Rae have strong all-around potential. The former is more of a receiving threat while the latter already boasts a strong blocking skillset.
If the Trojans intend to stick to 11-personnel (meaning one running back and one tight end on the field) as they most often did in 2019, then having four tight ends on the roster should be more than enough.
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The present personnel is even enough to shift into 12-personnel (one running back and two tight ends). From time to time in 2019, USC did just that with Krommenhoek and Falo on the field together. Wolfe and Rae could also work as a similarly paired receiving-blocking duo.
The trouble in 2020 could be a small margin for error. If an injury or other circumstance came into play, the Trojans would be severely limited.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be much different than in 2019. Krommenhoek was the only consistently available tight end in the unit. Falo dealt with a nagging injury. Wolfe and Rae redshirted while dealing with injuries of their own.
That’s precisely why worry for the time being should be limited. When depth at tight end was threatened last year, USC coped by changing their base personnel. They took advantage of Drake London as a receiver to provide a big presence on the inside. He finished with 568 yards and five touchdowns on 39 catches. The Trojans have even taken to including London in their tight end highlight reels.
USC does need to pay special attention to the tight end unit when recruiting going forward. Krommenhoek and Falo are slated to graduate after the 2020 season, leaving Wolfe and Rae alone going into 2021.
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Currently, the Trojans have one tight end commitment for the class of 2021. Three-star Lake McRee committed in early June. Bringing in another would help ease future concerns.