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Will Missouri’s 2016 offense will have opportunities for a third tight end?

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Missouri is blessed with experience at tight end but doesn’t boast enough proven quality to write off a young tight end seeing the field.

Kendall Blanton

6’6, 250, RSSo.

Blue Springs, MO

davidcmorrison: Blanton’s intriguing because 1) he’s huge and 2) he had experience in both run-heavy and pass-happy offenses during his prep career at Blue Springs South.

The only offensive exposure he got last year was two snaps in that Elephant set against South Carolina, but even then you could kind of piece together his utility as a third cog in goal-line sets as either another pile-pusher or a jumpball artist.

I don’t know that he’ll just step into Clayton Echard’s 15-snap-a-game, block-your-daylights-out role (I think Culkin and Reese will share the extra load), but he could be an effective option inside the 10.

Oscar Gamble: Kendall Blanton has impressive size and reportedly was improving his blocking enough to nearly see the field in certain situations last year. As much as I want him to break onto the scene, there’s probably too much returning experience ahead of him to make that a reality. That doesn’t mean he can’t contribute in certain situations like goal line or jumbo formations.

Sam Snelling: Behind the experience of Culkin and Reese, does anyone expect Blanton will get many looks this season? There’s a lot to like about his ability — he’s got the size, the hands and good speed to be an impact tight end in the SEC — but he’s also going to be a sophomore and playing in an offense that may not get a ton of snaps and may not involve the tight ends in the passing game.

But I still think Blanton can find valuable snaps by being an improved blocker and occasionally slipping down the field on play action.

TheRonDavis: You can’t teach 6’6, and Kendall Blanton provides a ton of mismatches for the Tiger offense. Much like Justin Smith at receiver, Drew Lock will have an option to throw a jump ball pass in the red zone with Blanton. Unfortunately for him, Sean Culkin and Jason Reese are also big, plus they’ve had a couple years of experience on him. If he impresses in fall camp, Blanton can play his way into a situational tight end.

Brendan Scales

6’4, 235, Fr.

Wildwood, MO

davidcmorrison: I just don’t see the point of Scales or Albert Okwuegbunam seeing the field this year with what all’s on the depth chart above them.

Yes, Scales may be SEC-ready athletically, but the benefit of “redshirt and get him for 5” outweighs any extra oomph that “burn it and play him 5 snaps a game” brings. Unless you see a bunch of utility for him on special teams but, again, you can find other dudes on the roster to do that so you can maximize your time with Scales.

He’s a unique talent for a tight end, one who started his varsity career as an offensive tackle (blocking) and ended it as a touchdown machine (catching) slash sometimes Wildcat quarterback (it’s not fair that some have so much ability while David gets winded walking up a flight of stairs-ing).

Why not let him stick around for a while?

Oscar Gamble: Flipping Scales from his Alabama commitment (really, he decommitted because they asked him to grayshirt) was a big deal last year because he grew up a fan of the Tigers and because he filled a need in Josh Heupel’s new offense.

Many speculate he’ll play more of a hybrid fullback/h-back role rather than as a pure TE, never mind that Jason Reese basically played that position much of last year. The popular notion is he could play this year and having seen him in person I could see why, but I’m reserving the right to redshirt him.

Sam Snelling: True freshman getting major snaps over three more experienced SEC level tight ends? Yeah, I don’t expect to see much of Scales this year. It’s hard to not like Scales ability and potential to be the kind of Tight End who can play a major role and do so soon. Plus the whole grayshirt story could be a special motivator to prove he can be an impact tight end in the SEC.

TheRonDavis: Much like Jason Reese, I think Scales will provide a lot of versatility at the tight end position. If he impresses in fall camp, I can see him skipping the redshirt. Alabama wanted him, so that should tell you he’s a good football player. Depending upon what Josh Heupel wants out of his tight ends, Scales can line up as an H-back, out wide or next to the tackle. I think Gary Pinkel redshirts Scales, but Barry Odom could see him as a guy who can help right away.

Bill C.: If Heupel truly thinks he needs more of an “H-back” type and doesn’t think that is the best spot for Reese, I could see Scales playing immediately. But he has to be pretty unique in that regard, and he doesn’t have just a ton of time to prove himself. Luckily, a redshirt is in no way a defeatist option if he doesn’t stand out quickly enough.

Albert Okwuegbunam

6’5, 225, Fr.

Springfield, IL

Oscar Gamble: Definitely more of a flexed-out TE similar to Sean Culkin, Albert Okwuegbunam - who I will end up calling “Albert Ok” while humming Michael Jackson’s “Annie are you Ok?”. I think he’s destined to redshirt this year and spend a lot of time in the weight room.

Sam Snelling: Where Scales is more of the prototypical Tight End, I think Okwuegbunam is more of that TE-hybrid that we got used to seeing during the Chase Daniel years with guys like Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman and Michael Egnew. Let’s just assume that he’ll have that level of production with Drew Lock, and whoever comes after Drew throwing lots and lots of touchdowns to him and maybe even a few defenders hurdled.

davidcmorrison: Fantastic last name. Made me forget all about Daniel Imatorbhebhe.

TheRonDavis: A-OK will be a fan favorite by the end of his time at Missouri. His last name definitely helps, but he’s got a lot of untapped potential that will be brought out at some point. It probably won’t be this year, but add in a year or two in the weight room and he’s a guy that can really stretch the field as a tight end down the line.

Bill C.: A-OK. That’s a nickname I can get behind.