Expectations are through the roof this season for the Bearcats as they return their deepest and most talented roster, probably of all time. In this multi-part series, I’ll examine each of the position groups, expectations, potential break out stars, and weaknesses. This article we will examine the tight ends led by hometown hero Josh Whyle.
Highest-graded TEs when lined up out wide/in the slot last season:
1. Kyle Pitts, Florida – 89.5
2. Isaiah Likely, CCU – 81.1
3. Josh Whyle, Cincy – 79.8
4. Charlie Kolar, Iowa St. – 79.5 pic.twitter.com/YLWFj7fdqW
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 18, 2021
Offensive Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach Mike Denbrock has had a wealth of players at the Tight End position since coming to Cincinnati, starting with current Green Bay Packer Josiah Deguara, current Arizona Cardinal Bruno Labelle and returning Bearcats Josh Whyle and Lenny Taylor. Whyle, from LaSalle High School, is another player that is well regarded by Pro Football Focus. Josh has potential to hear his name called in the NFL Draft if he doesn’t return for his senior year. Denbrock has had success in his career getting TEs into the NFL having coached Tyler Eifert and Kyle Rudolph at his last stop, Notre Dame. Denbrock likes to be able to move his TEs around the field utilizing what he calls the “K-Position”, named for Bearcat and Chiefs legend Travis Kelce, which is a TE who can line in up line with the tackles, shift out as a slot type receiver, or line up in the back field as a lead blocker.
View this post on Instagram
Whyle effectively has only had two seasons of play after a broken collarbone injury (can confirm, ouch) in his first Camp Higher Ground sidelined him for most of the season. He appeared in 4 games in 2018 as a true freshman and had no recordable stats behind a stacked Tight End room. In 2019, Deguara got most of the run in the offense, and Whyle only had 2 catches for 51 yards. Whyle dealt with a list of nagging injuries in 2018 and 2019 finally “getting his body right” in the 2019 off season. The 2020 season was his breaking out party recording 28 catches for 353 yards and 6 TDs. He finally was able to back-up his legendary trash talk reputation and is poised for another big season in 2021. I look for Whyle to have around 600 receiving yards and 7 TDs this season as a red zone weapon and a player they can move around to create mismatches with our opposing defenses.
Another big contributor for the Bearcats is another local talent, Lenny Taylor from Springfield High School. Taylor made a name for himself his freshman year in 2018 on special teams and was also buried on the depth chart behind the future NFL talent. Lenny also broke out last year, focusing mostly as the “in-line” Tight End recording 16 catches for 191 yards and a TD. I look for Taylor to continue to develop along with Whyle this year, recording around 300 yards and 2 TDs. Lenny is a big blocker but still has the skillset to go out and make plays, having recorded a TD in each of the last two seasons. Having both Whyle and Taylor on the field at the same time is going to be tough to defend with all of the other weapons the Bearcats will deploy this season.
The Bearcats have a pile of Tight Ends behind Whyle and Taylor with Michigan State transfer Noah Davis the most likely to see significant playing time. Davis, from St. X High School, transferred home before the 2020 season and didn’t see any action in 2020. Peyton Singletary is likely the next man up behind Davis with incoming freshman Caleb Schmitz and highly regarded player Chamon Matayer having just made their way on campus in the past few weeks. A couple of guys who spend their time in the Tight End room and focus on special teams are Nate Lawler and Jack Campbell. The Bearcats Tight Ends are going to be a big key to the success of Mike Denbrock’s offense. Taylor and Whyle are big bodied guys who should serve as red zone weapons and are threats to break a big touchdown.