Looking For More Production
For years the Big Blue Nation has expressed concern about the use of the tight ends. One week a player like C.J. Conrad would have six receptions and a couple of touchdowns. Then he’d disappear for weeks at a time. Based on his history, new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello should make Cat fans happy. As we begin our 2022 Kentucky Tight Ends Preview we focus on another strong group for Mark Stoops.
A Big Time Return
In 2020 Keaton Upshaw hauled in 16 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns. That put him second on the squad behind Josh Ali‘s 54. He seemed primed for a big season in 2021 in then offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s offense. However, an injury forced him to miss all of 2021. This fall he’s been battling a minor hamstring injury. If Upshaw’s able to get to 100% then a big season is in the offing. The Lima, Ohio native and his 6-6 frame should get plenty of looks in the red zone.
Brenden Bates is the elder statesman of the tight end room. In addition to being a great run blocker, the senior caught 11 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. In fact, Scangarello says they may use him at fullback in 2022. He also promises a two tight end attack and much like Upshaw the Cincinnati native could be a threat near the goal line. He’s not the flashiest player but the solid contributor you need for a successful offense.
Continuing on with our 2022 Kentucky Preview Tight Ends let’s look at two more players who are pushing for playing time this season.
A Smooth Transition
Following Upshaw’s injury, Vince Marrow’s tight ends were thin at the position last season. However, they had plenty of depth at wide receiver. What to do in that case? Of course, move a receiver to tight end. Enter Izayah Cummings who made the move and paid immediate dividends. On the season he hauled in 14 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. While those are pretty good stats his ceiling is even higher in 2022. With his size, he can take on SEC linebackers and can run with the secondary as a result of his speed.
Another player to watch in the tight end room is Jordan Dingle. The Bowling Green native appeared in four games a season ago. As a result, he maintained his redshirt. In that time he caught two passes for 54 yards, which is a pretty great 27 yards per catch. His brother Justice transferred to Lexington from Georgia Tech.
In fact, one Dingle is one of the players getting a lot of talk during fall camp. Even with the crowded tight end room, it sounds like keeping him off the field may be easier said than done.
The Jordan Dingle hype is building and I suggest you get on board before the season so you can say you bought in.
— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) August 20, 2022
In addition to the four players we talked about Kentucky also has incoming freshman Josh Kattus. The three-star player out of Cincinnati, Ohio ranks as the 40th best player in the Buckeye State. He’s another in the long line of high school powerhouse Moeller who’ve come down Interstate 75 to Lexington.
The son of former Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets tight end Eric Kattus hauled in 42 catches for 553 yards and a score. Scagarello thinks Kattus will get some playing time in 2022.
There’s no doubt the Kentucky Wildcats possess one of the best tight-end groups in the SEC. Of course, the Big Blue Nation has heard it before how they’ll be used more frequently. Based on Scangarello’s track record Cat fans have to be excited.
Throughout fall camp no position has gotten more praise than the tight ends. Of course, anyone who’s followed Scangarello’s career should expect that. Coming from the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay system he coached some great players, most notably George Kittle. When asked if he’d found a Kittle with this group he didn’t quite answer the question but thinks all five tight ends could end up playing on Sunday.
Thanks for checking out the 2022 Kentucky Tight Ends preview here at Last Word On College Football. Next time out we’ll look at the offensive and defensive lines.