Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather



Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.355.8822 for flexible options & rates.




The Bradsher Beat
Friday, August 17, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

Tight end position takes on new meaning

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

Junior Davon Drew (top) and senior Jay Sonnhalter are at the forefront of a group of East Carolina tight ends whose assignments will be expanded in the 2007 season. (ECU SID photo)


Bradsher: TE position takes on new meaning
Myatt: Kass approaches season with poise
Audio: Skip Holtz guest appearance on Talk 1070' Talk of the Town
Bailey: Young backs jockey for travel squad
Myatt: Troth on new mission second time around
Bailey: Kass a natural in high-profile position
Audio: Skip Holtz at the ECU Pirates' Media Day
O'Brien: Coffman thriving in leadership role
Bradsher: Winning 'em over in back country not easy
O'Brien: Coaches sound off on 'Mid-Major' label
O'Brien: Expansion not on C-USA radar
Cherubini: Ex-Pirate coach applauds state of program
Gold: ECU pays price for Florida's success

The common knock on the East Carolina offense is inexperience and ambiguity in the skill positions.

No one can say with certainty who will be carrying the ball the most effectively, or which receiver will make the impact plays, or even how young starting quarterback Rob Kass will distinguish himself.

But this much is clear: The Pirates have an opportunity to reinvent the tight end’s role and amplify its impact this season.

For the first time since he arrived three years ago, Skip Holtz can look at his stable of tight ends and envision a dynamic plan for them, a sheath of plays that includes tight end passing routes, sets with multiple tight ends and innovative blocking schemes.

That door is opening because four tight ends will be listed on the ECU depth chart. That number is a luxury compared to past lineups of two or even just one athlete at that position.

“All of a sudden, I feel like we have a chance to really play a tight end,” Holtz said. “The first couple of years we sat down and said, ‘Is our first tight end better than our third receiver?’ And he wasn’t, so we played three wides.

"And we’d say, ‘Is our first tight end better than our fourth receiver?’ and he wasn’t, so we played four wides.”

The undisputed leader of the tight end corps is senior Jay Sonnhalter, who caught four passes for 59 yards and one touchdown last year.

Joining Sonnhalter at the top of the ranks is junior Davon Drew, a converted quarterback who may get the starting nod this year for a 2006 campaign that featured 16 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’re trying to work us more into the offense,” said Drew, who was named a preseason All-Conference USA selection. “I know at practice we’ve been taking on more reps and working on different things.”

Two new faces – junior transfer J.R. Kraemer and redshirt freshman Kevin Gidry – round out the tight end selections. With that many talented players working with position coach Phil Petty during camp, the drills and plays are taking on new and challenging facets, Sonnhalter said, and that expanded repertoire can only lead to a more varied offensive menu.

“It seems like we’re doing a whole lot with the offense, doing a lot of different motions,” Sonnhalter said. “It’s fun, because we get to go in motion, run routes, run side routes. It’s challenging us, learning new movements and new plays, but that’s what we want.”

The Pirate coaches have high hopes for Kraemer, who learned the college game at Illinois and sat out last year to comply with NCAA transfer regulations. Kraemer, an Eagle Scout who played in five games during his only active season at Illinois, is anxious to move out of the shadows of the scout team into the offensive playmaking machinery.

But Kraemer, like his tight end teammates, knows that no one is making any promises about pass plays or other tight end theatrics. Even if the Pirates are installing more tight end options during daily workouts, the plays that actually work come game day are the ones that will earn a place in ECU’s repertoire.

“They’re not concerned about it, I can promise you that,” Petty said of the potential elevated visibility of tight ends. “It’s just, whatever it takes to win.”

Pecking order a tough call

Some media reports predicted that Holtz would release a depth chart after Tuesday’s workout, but he said that he needed more time – and one more scrimmage – to evaluate the contenders for each position.

“It’s real hard for me at this point to say, he’s beat out him, or he’s beat out him,” Holtz said. “That’s what this scrimmage Saturday is going to be about.

“I don’t want to release a depth chart just to say we did it. Right now, I can’t justify to a lot of the guys in the locker room that they’re three and the other guy is two. I can’t justify that when they haven’t had the opportunity to earn that on the field.”

Holtz said that he hopes to circulate a depth chart on Sunday.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

08/17/2007 02:56:17 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.