Big surprise that voters in the MV! Significant Playing Time Poll think that Brandon Barden has the best change of getting significant playing time at tight end (or fullback or H-back) this season. I guess a bigger surprise is that somebody out there thinks Barden WON'T get significant playing time this season. We'd like to hear from that person to get your reasoning. Are you clairvoyant and foresee him getting injured in preseason camp or something?
Anyway, we like to cut the voting off after 50 votes but we let the tight end poll ride a while and only got 42 votes, which means that folks aren't as excited about tight ends, fullbacks and H-backs as they are about, say, quarterbacks and running backs, so we went ahead and stopped voting. Can't wait to see how excited you are about offensive linemen, which is our new poll.
Here's how the voting shakes out:
1. Brandon Barden, R-SR: 97 percent
2. Austin Monahan, R-JR: 71 percent
3. Mason Johnston, R-SO: 35 percent
4. Dillon van der Wal, FR: 33 percent
5. Fitz Lassing, SO: 28 percent
6. (tie) Marc Panu, R-SO: 9 percent
6. (tie) Steven Scheu, R-SO: 9 percent
Why did we lump fullbacks and H-backs with tight ends? Well, because guys like Barden, Johnston and Lassing will be playing both this season, and we're not really sure how James Franklin plans to use these guys in the offense. You'll definitely see several of them on the field at the same time this season.
Barden has a chance to make All-SEC and/or be drafted as early as the second or third round.
Monahan has always been an impressive talent who's started ahead of Barden when he's been healthy and apparently has been given a sixth year of eligibility which means this is his junior year. If he's completely healed and can avoid injury, then he could be a huge weapon for us.
Johnston has always been more of a blocker than a receiver but is pretty athletic and could line up in the backfield.
Van der Wal, who's a nice prospect on both sides of the ball, could see significant time as a pass-catching target if Monahan struggles to return to SEC play or if big receiving targets like Chris Boyd and Brady Brown don't crack the lineup. He's got a huge upside as a prospect at defensive end or offensive line and would benefit from a redshirt if coaches think his future is at one of these positions.
Lassing is a brilliant local kid that coaches like to refer to as a warrior. He's not a star, but he could be a valuable role player as a blocker either on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. He could crack the starting lineup up if Franklin opens the game with a fullback.
Panu, a 245-pound walk-on who was listed as a defensive end last season and played special teams, is a wild card at fullback. He's bigger than Lassing but lacks his ball skills.
Scheu looks like a clone of Barden and could surprise some people this season, especially if Monahan or Johnston struggle to make the tough catches. He's not as big a target as van der Wal, but has more experience catching ball.