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UTEP Football 2016 Position Group Preview: Tight Ends

Kent Taylor's arrival turned a sure weakness into a possible major strength.

Tight End Depth Chart

  • Kent Taylor, 6'5, 240 lbs, Senior, 2015 stats: 15 catches, 179 yards, 30 targets, 50% catch rate
  • Hayden Plinke, 6'4, 255 lbs, Senior, 2015 stats: 37 catches, 410 yards, 64 targets, 57.8% catch rate
  • Sterling Napier, 6'4, 255 lbs, Junior
  • Augie Touris, ,6'4, 250 lbs, Sophomore

Heading into the summer, tight end was a big question mark, and apparent weakness coming out of spring practices.

But then Kent Taylor decided to transfer to UTEP, teaming up with Hayden Plinke to form a legitimate duo at tight end that can not only help UTEP's to-be-named starting quarterback, but make UTEP's passing game a legit threat.

"We've added Kent Taylor, he brings a lot to the table as a receiver and blocker. He has good size, he's an experienced player, he's started at Florida and Kansas, and he's played at two high-level conferences. It's a good group." Head Coach Sean Kugler said.

Taylor and Plinke will be used in a number of way in the Miners passing game under Brent Pease's new offense, and that is a great thing for the Miners.

"That's a very important position for us," Kugler said about the tight ends. "Our tight ends have to play well for this offense to go.

Sterling Napier returns as the Miners main run blocker, and physical enforcer. At one point in the spring, it was just Napier, and Touris at the tight end spot, now the Miners strength in the passing game could be at tight tend.

You will see the tight ends run a number of underneath routes creating safety blankets for the Miner quarterbacks. Plinke became that last year, now the Miners have two clones who will get legit NFL looks in the spring of 2017.

The biggest factor these two could play is when the Miner offense hits the redzone.

You will have two big targets who can move, and after the defense just got pounded out before the offense reached the redzone, you have to account for both of the Miners budding passing targets.

Tough for anyone gameplan, let alone execute after a long balanced drive with your back already against the wall.

Taylor was one of the Kugler's best recruiting jobs so far, and the addition could end up revamping a badly needed effective passing game from UTEP.

2016 Stat Projections

Plinke: 45 catches, 457 yards, 2 TDs

Taylor: 31 catches, 315 yards, 3 TDs