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Louisville Football Position Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Kentucky v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Louisville ended the 2018 season with 14 scholarship receivers on the roster. They only graduated one player from that group and the previous staff had one receiver committed before they were fired. If you’re looking for an example of how poorly the roster was managed, you can stop looking. For some context, Washington State who led the nation in pass attempts by a very wide margin only had 14 total receivers on their roster. If you count the guys not on scholarship, Louisville’s total jumps to 17. Louisville sits at 11 scholarship receivers now and they now have a group that should be able to compete with each other well for playing time.

Dez Fitzpatrick is the obvious leader of this group when it comes to talent and proven ability and he could have the breakout year we all expected last year. Scott Satterfield’s offense averaged eight fewer passes per game over the last five years than Bobby Petrino’s. However, App State had the conference leader in yards per catch last season. The offense creates a lot of one-on-one matchups and Fitzpatrick has already shown that he can win those battles in the ACC.

Seth Dawkins will be the other outside receiver in this offense. Dawkins has had a solid career and could be the key to this offense being a complete offense. What I mean by that is is the offense can’t focus too much on one or two players and it needs a guy like Dawkins to be a threat as a downfield option as well as on third downs. One of my major takeaways from the 2018 App State season is that they didn’t have a true second option outside. Dawkins is that guy and could change the way Scott Satterfield calls his offense.

The slot position should be used much more efficiently this year. Tutu Atwell was used on a lot of seam routes down the middle of the field and that just didn’t make a lot of sense with his lack of size. Satterfield will likely get the ball to Atwell closer to the line of scrimmage and in spots where he can run after the catch. He will also take hand offs on end-arounds and other plays that put him in motion before the snap.

The backup spots are intriguing with veteran guys like DeVante Peete, Emonee Spence, and Keion Wakefield but I think some other guys will make a splash this year. Justin Marshall is my choice for an under the radar guy that will become an important player on this team this season. I can’t understand why he never got on the field before but his third year in the program should be the one that gets him an opportunity. He has great size and good speed and I also really liked how he got open during the spring showcase.

The slot position is a bit crowded this year but I think that Thomas Jackson will be a guy that gets a lot of snaps behind Tutu Atwell. Jackson played for Gunter Brewer at UNC and knows the expectations from him. He also was a solidly productive player there who brings a veteran presence. Josh Johnson will also likely find himself on the field this year. App State offered him in high school so it’s obvious that they like his skill set. He’s just going to have to deal with the crowd at the position.

Tight End was a major issue that this staff inherited because of the lack of numbers at the position. Jordan Davis was the only scholarship player at the position after the season ended and Davis hadn’t been able to get on the field much during his time here. Davis seems to have taken the challenge of being “the guy” very well as he has remade his body this offseason. Davis will be the first guy up at the main tight end spot.

Ean Pfiefer is a grad transfer from Vanderbilt where he played guard. Pfiefer shed forty pounds since he left Vandy and he looks the part from a physical standpoint. The question, of course, is how he will do catching the football as well as his foot speed. As a blocker he will be a valuable addition as we know he can do that at an SEC level.

The H-Back position will be new for Louisville fans to see. The position is best described as a hybrid tight end/fullback position that was used mostly as a blocker for App State last season. Marshon Ford was put on scholarship this spring and he should be the first guy up at this spot. Ford is a solid athlete who should be a good option in the play action game as a receiver. He also has the size needed to handle the pass protection requirements of the spot. Tobias Little and Dez Melton should be the guys backing up Ford. I wouldn’t be too shocked to see Little get on the field a lot.