Last season, Cole Hikutini stole the show and the majority of the reps for one of Bobby Petrino’s favorite positional weapons. Hikutini actually led the entire team, not just Tight Ends, in receptions with 50, and receiving touchdowns with 8. Clearly, ‘Bobby Ball’ heavily involves using the Tight Ends as much more than just blockers. Hikutini is now in good position to make the 49ers roster, but who will step up in his place for Louisville this year?
The depth chart that was released in July has No. 80 Charles Standberry, 6-3, 241 lb, Senior listed as the starter. Standberry has been used in the passing game before, and he has proven to be effective when the ball is thrown his way, however, to this point in his career he has been used as mainly a blocking Tight End. Throughout his 3 year career, Standberry has recorded 17 receptions for 174 yards (10.2 YPC) with 2 touchdowns. I do believe that Standberry will be a bigger fixture in the offense this year, but I also think him being listed as the starter is a last ditch effort to wake up the man listed as his back-up, Micky Crum.
Crum had a very impressive freshman season 2 years ago. He recorded 14 receptions for 163 yards (11.6 YPC) with 3 touchdowns, he was poised for a breakout Sophomore campaign, but as seen earlier, Hikutini took that moment and made it his own. When his sophomore year had ended, Crum only had 1 reception for 7 yards to show for all the talent and potential he exhibited during his true freshman season. No. 83 Crum, at 6’4, 250 lbs is a little bigger than Standberry and moves a little quicker, too. He will look to forget about the sophomore slump and reemerge as the ‘Bobby Ball’ Tight End we saw during his freshman year.
Sophomore No. 85 Jordan Davis, 6-4, 255, is the last Tight End on the depth chart. Bobby prefers his Tight Ends to catch-first receivers so if Davis can prove his ability to run the field and make grabs as Hikutini did last year, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think he can earn some reps. When the first play is snapped when the season comes, I believe it will be Micky Crum who gets the starting nod. Standberry is a proven blocker and a decent receiver, but the potential Crum showed his freshman season makes him the more favorable choice. Sophomore slumps happen in all sports, and the great players don’t let it carry over into their 3rd season. Look for this group to headline another facet of the Bobby Petrino attacking offense this year. Making up for the hole Hikutini left behind will be a tall task, but these guys have the tools and potential to get it done.