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The Cardinal Countdown: 18 Days Until Kickoff

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

#18 Cole Hikutini

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-5/240

Position: Tight End

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Twitter: @colehikutini_07

Thoughts: I talked about it when I covered Keith Towbridge back on Day 89but I am officially squashing the “tight ends really under-performed in 2014” talk. I was a card carrying member of that rhetoric right up until I looked at the stats and it just wasn’t true. Could they have blocked better? Could they have had less drops? Yes, and yes, (dick) but that doesn’t mean they didn’t play good football. Christian performed well enough to get drafted and I wouldn’t be floored to see another one or two on the current roster wind up in the same position.

While Towbridge is nursing a foot injury (similar to Parker’s last year) Micky Crum, Standberry (sharing time with WR group as an H-back) and newcomer Cole Hikutini are splitting time. I really liked what Standberry showed us last year and I pegged Crum as one of my favorite young players but Hikutini is garnering damn near Peyton Siva like praise from the coaching staff since his arrival back in January. If you read between the lines I think Cole is actually your starting TE if the season began today. Maybe Towbridge is back to 100% by September, maybe Standberry starts out there before shifting outside, but Cole appears to be the man of the hour for right now which frankly surprises the crap out of  June 2015 me. Similar to Christian last year Hikutini has really good hands, runs solid routes, has good size, but absolutely has to improve his blocking, something he reiterated himself in a recent interview. While we all bashed the O-line early last year there were quite a few instances that the TE or fullback missed a block which is what led to the sack, quick incompletion or throwaway. We have to do better at the position as a whole and Petrino and staff know it.

Initially I thought Cole was a nice winter addition to the class who may contribute occasionally but now all signs point to him being an integral part of the offense this season. The role I envisioned Micky Crum playing this year may be covered by Hikutini now, which isn’t the end of the world considering Crum is just a RS Freshman and we only get Cole for two years. Being a newcomer I think Cole may shock a few people with his 6-5/240 frame alone. (That is actually 2” taller than Christian and just a shade under his weight of 248lb last year.Most people, including myself, considered Christian a brick house) The other major positive is that those of you who rocked the Christian jersey last year (or throwback Carmody, *cough* Mike *cough*) will have a solid player wearing #18 once again.

Sweet Tweet:

I’m with Cole. Getting up early during the week really screws up any chance I might have of sleeping in on the weekends so instead I try and do something productive. I think we’re close enough now that manycan begin getting their tailgates or watch parties put together for September 5th. Sure, when it comes to drinks alot of people will partake in the classics like beer and wine but I’m thinking of dusting off the ole bartending tools and bringing something new this year…a Hiku-tini.

We’ll start with some gin and vermouth, we’ll do a 1 to 8 ratio to represent his jersey number. Maybe a splash of grape juice to help represent the vineyards in his home state of California, a splash of bourbon to represent his new home here in Kentucky, and I’ll garnish it with an orange to represent the Orange Bowl which we plan to play in as a representative of the ACC conference for the College Football Playoff. Give it a shake, strain it…

[sips drink]

That. Is. Horrible.

Stick with me though, my Jaire “Alexander”, my Micky C-rum Runner and my Drew “Bailey’s Irish Cream” is bound to be much better. Maybe.