The tight end position may not have lived up to the Miami Hurricanes’ standard for the job in 2021, but with all of the receiving production from a year ago returning as well as the quarterback star Tyler Van Dyke, the position could be a strength in 2022.
The group is led by senior Will Mallory, but also has some young faces who are expected to play a bigger role in a new offense. Tight ends coach Stephen Field would be kept in the same position, so tight ends won’t have a whole new offensive staff in 2022.
With Josh Gattis taking over as offensive coordinator under head coach Mario Cristobal, tight ends could be very much in the spotlight with Michigan’s offense using starting tight end Erick Ali a little , finishing second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Field isn’t the only staff coach to lead the position throughout his career. Cristobal ran the job at Rutgers and Miami early in his career. Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal also coached tight ends when he worked under Cristobal at Florida International.
The Hurricanes had six tight ends on their roster in 2021, and most of them will return this season for spring training with just one start in the transfer gate. Larry Hodges, who hasn’t caught an assist in five games during the 2021 season, entered the transfer portal in February.
The tight room will consist of five returning players as well as a new face coming out of high school.
A four-star recruit out of high school in 2018, Mallory joined Miami with Brevin Jordan. In his first three seasons, it was Jordan who received the bulk of the tight end reps.
He was used sparingly as a receiver in his first two seasons on campus, catching 21 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. In his third season on campus, he leapt forward, catching 22 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns.
In his first season as a starting tight end after Jordan left for the NFL, Mallory had a season of ups and downs. He struggled to start the season, catching just 10 passes for 75 yards and no touchdowns in five games.
When Van Dyke and the attack started humming, Mallory was a big part of it. He caught a touchdown in four of the last six games of the season and also had at least three catches in each of those six games.
He finished the year with 30 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns. His season wasn’t defined by the plays he made, but the ones he didn’t. In Game Week 3 against Michigan State, Mallory dropped a pass in the end zone that would have put the Hurricanes up 17-3. Instead, they would settle for a field goal, which they would miss.
But along with his struggles, he’s also made plenty of big plays over the past two seasons due to his incredible speed for the position. Mallory is a game nightmare for slower linebackers, but also for smaller safeties.
Will Mallory’s long reception being called back. Great effort from Mallory here.
Testimony of the kind of athlete he is. The defense never stopped playing and neither did he. pic.twitter.com/FsAp3Lm0Jn
—Arturo (@CaneFilms) September 21, 2020
On a play that would be called back, Mallory creates a split in the seam for an easy grip, but then he’s too big to take down and runs too fast to be caught from behind to the 10-yard line.
This game showed how he can use his athleticism to hurt defenses, making moves around guys who are not only smaller but less athletic.
Another great play from Mallory who was called up due to a penalty, he again shows his athleticism. After pretending to be a blocker, walks up the sideline, turns and climbs higher than the defender can reach, and does a nice handshake. An ability that many big tight ends may never be able to do at the college level, he then flips the pitch and breaks two tackles. He then passes three other Virginia Tech defensive backs to find the end zone.
Although Mallory, like many receivers over the past two seasons, has had trouble holding onto the ball, he is a huge threat to defenses with his size and speed. He was used a lot in the game as a deep threat due to his ability to get past linebackers, and that was with a struggling rushing offense. If the coaching staff can help improve the ground game, look for Mallory to enjoy a lot more.
Tight seventh in the Class of 2021, Elijah Arroyo was a huge addition for Miami with Jordan leaving a year early for the NFL. Although he didn’t have too many chances to catch passes in his first season, Arroyo took advantage of the ones he got.
He caught just one pass in five games last season, finishing with five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. His lone touchdown came in a win over Pittsburgh on a 20-yard dart from Van Dyke.
In a tight two-end formation, Arroyo runs a post on the outside while Mallory runs a corner lane from inside. The defense is confused in coverage and not changing properly, leaving Arroyo wide open in the end zone.
The ability to use a formation with two tight ends could be extremely useful for the running game if Mallory and Arroyo can also stretch the defense while being solid blockers.
Unless one of these players takes a huge leap forward, don’t expect much from these young players. With the top two players returning to the position, these players will likely add depth and play on special teams. With a new coaching staff, they may better match what coaches are looking for, but that’s unlikely.
A three-star freshman out of high school, Kahlil Brantley added depth with Arroyo in the tight end position for the 2021 recruiting round. He played just one game throughout his freshman season, catching a seven-yard pass against Central Connecticut State.
Another three-star recruit, Mammarelli has the size to be useful. In two seasons with the Hurricanes, he saw the field sparingly. During his freshman year in Miami, he appeared in 10 games, mostly on special teams. He did not appear in any games in the 2021 season.
A member of the practice squad, Robert Prosek saw no playing action in the three seasons with the team.
As the only tight rookie in the Hurricanes’ 2022 cycle, Jaleel Skinner makes up for that by being one of the best players in his position. Considered the third tight end in the nation, Skinner has the obvious tools that could help him become Miami’s next big tight end.
At 6ft 5in he has the height and wingspan that could be used right away. Combined with Arroyo, the Hurricanes are placed in the position that goes forward when Mallory is gone.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about Skinner is that he signed up in January. Even though he is tall, he was only listed at 215 pounds, light enough for the position. But getting on campus and participating in Miami’s strength and conditioning program will help him get on the court much sooner.
Skinner committed to Alabama in October 2021, but moved to the Hurricanes on early signing day two months later.
Skinner looks pretty thin, but he moves extremely well and has a length that can’t be taught. Don’t be surprised if he has some impressive highlights in spring training and makes his way onto the pitch in 2022.