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State of the Sooners: Oklahoma's tight ends entering 2014 spring game

by Ryan Aber Modified: April 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014
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Will someone step up at the tight end position in Blake Bell's absence? Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Will someone step up at the tight end position in Blake Bell's absence? Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Continuing our unit-by-unit look at the 2014 Oklahoma football team, here is a look at the Sooners’ tight ends entering Saturday’s spring game.

TIGHT ENDS
10; Blake Bell; Sr.; 6-6; 264
88; Taylor McNamara; So.; 6-5; 240
80; Isaac Ijalana; So.; 6-4; 248

Tight end analysis: The tight end hasn’t been the source of much direct offensive production in recent years with the use of more blocking tight ends and having fullbacks (like Trey Millard) line up at the position at times to keep the same personnel on the field while using different formations.

After tight ends Brannon Green and McNamara combined to catch just one pass during the regular season last year, each had a catch in the Sugar Bowl.

Now, Bell is at tight end after moving from quarterback when Trevor Knight sealed the starting job with his excellent Sugar Bowl performance.

Bell won’t play Saturday after suffering a knee injury last week but he figures to be the tight end with the best chance of making his mark as a pass-catcher. Coaches have raved about his hands during spring before his injury and he certainly has the size to handle his position. What he needs, though, is to get stronger as a blocker.

McNamara came in with plenty of hype and got a quick start but an injury led to a medical redshirt and then he played in just three games last year. Like Bell, blocking is the biggest question with McNamara. If he can prove valuable as a blocker, he could see significant time this season. If not, the Sooners could once again lean on players like Aaron Ripkowski and addition offensive linemen to handle the extra blocking duties when they’re called for.

Ijalana is a junior college transfer with three years of eligibility remaining. He is likely to be behind the other two.

The other tight ends on the roster are sophomore walk-on Connor Knight, the twin brother of the Sooners’ quarterback, and freshman Carson Meier of Tulsa Union who will arrive on campus in the summer.

 

Here’s a full schedule for the “State of the Sooners” series:
Wednesday, 9 a.m..: Special teams
Wednesday, noon.: Defensive backs
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Linebackers
Thursday, 9 a.m.: Defensive linemen
Thursday, noon: Offensive linemen
Thursday, 3 p.m.: Tight ends
Friday, 9 a.m.: Wide receivers
Friday, noon: Running backs
Friday, 3 p.m.: Quarterbacks


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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