Tight End a position to watch ahead of SEMO’s spring game
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz says tight end is a valuable piece of the Redhawks’ offense. It’s also one of the only positions where the Redhawks don’t have their main starter returning.
“It puts pressure on us because we’re the group that has to step up and fill that role,” said Cole Cook, SEMO’s tight ends coach. “A lot of other positions have people coming back, but we talk all the time about how we have to hold the standard.”
The players are embracing the challenge.
“I think it kind of bonds us,” said junior tight end Mitch Sellers. “We can increase and decrease together. So far in my time here, we’ve all been getting close as a group and getting better step by step, day by day.”
Sellers, a transfer from Southern Miss., Nik Rowland, Braden Thompson, and Danny Joiner, who was number two in position snaps last season but is currently dealing with an injury, make up the core group this spring.
Matukewicz is confident in his TE group say, “if you watch us practice, I don’t think you’ll think tight end will be anything than a positive for us this year.”
The primary focus is their run blocking.
“First things first here at SEMO we’re going to run the ball,” Cook said. “I tell those guys don’t even think about going out for a pass if you’re not going to handle your business in the run game.”
The message is loud and clear, but this spring in particular the Redhawks tight ends are turning some heads with their play-making.
“We’ve all done a pretty good job of catching balls,” said redshirt freshman tight end Nik Rowland. “I think we’re starting to get targeted more down field. If we just keep doing our job, I think we’ll get more reps in the pass game.”
“Hopefully we can add some depth to the offense,” sophomore tight end Braden Thompson said. “Help out those guys and take pressure of Ryan, Geno and Paxton. Just help our team win.”
Whether they’re blocking or catching, the constant improvement in the tight end room is exactly what Matukewicz was hoping for when he brought Cook on the staff last year.
“The reason I hired him is I want my tight ends to be like him,” said Matukewicz. “He’s a Power 5 captain (as a player at North Carolina State University), as good of a man as you’ll find, a technician. He really just brought a lot of stability to that room.
The players agree.
“I love coach Cook,” Sellers said. “He’s made me a better football player in my two months here.”
Rowland added “I needed a lot more help and all the criticism he’s given me has been very helpful and getting me on my feet and going.”
Cook is excited about the potential of this group.
“Every year is different,” said Cook. “Every group is different. This one’s going to be really special.”
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