Last spring I wrote a recap of the Spring Showcase that Louisville put together for fans who wanted to get a glimpse of the team after spring practice. In that post I wrote about how surprised I was to see Marshon ford running with the first group. Little did I know that he would become a key part of an explosive Louisville offense. He’s just getting started and the Louisville Tight End group will again be a major part of the offense.
Ford was big in the passing game last year as he led the ACC Tight Ends in touchdown catches. However, he was a bigger factor for Louisville as a blocker as he sprung Tutu Atwell for long runs multiple times throughout the season. Ford has the speed to get width as an edge blocker but he also has great vision as a blocker and a great ability to engage defenders without having to slow down and square up. When you have a guy with blazing speed behind you, it’s important to give that player space to work with. Ford was so good at that and Atwell was able to blow by guys because he could stay in stride.
The Cards got some good news this spring when Ean Pfiefer received word that he would be granted a sixth year of eligibility. Louisville had no depth at Tight End when the staff took over so they would be relying on young players or former walk-ons to take on a starting role without him. Pfiefer ended up catching couple of touchdowns last year but his value was really as a blocker. As a former offensive lineman, he did a great job driving players as well as creating an edge on outside runs. I’m really interested to see if he will be a bigger part of the passing offense but it’s very underrated how big of a factor he is in the run game.
The backup spots will likely belong to Isaac Martin and Dez Melton. Martin was recently put on scholarship and should see his role grow as Ford’s backup as well as a second H-Back in some formations. Martin is more of a blocker than a well-rounded player like Ford but we all know how key the H-Back is in the run game. His growth could lead to some flexibility for Ford from a formation standpoint.
Stu Holt says that Melton is up to about 250 pounds, and a full year playing Tight End hopefully gets him on the field this year. Melton was a Running Back in high school and just like others on the roster who played skill positions before moving into positions like Defensive End and Tight End, he should still hold some of that athleticism. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the staff rotate guys more often this year with Melton being an option in the passing game.
Louisville has done a really good job of adding high potential players at Tight End. Desmond Daniels and Duane Martin are both really athletic jumbo athletes who will have the opportunity to learn the position without having to be key players early on. Martin was a Fullback in high school and he was a finalist for South Carolina Mr. Football. Daniels is more of an unknown but he has great size and spent the off season before his senior year dedicating himself to learning the position. I’m genuinely excited to see Stu Holt mold these guys going forward.
This position was an obvious concern a year ago but Holt and some savvy roster management have made it a strong spot for the offense. Ford is the guy that gets the notice, and it’s deserved, but the group as a whole is really important to what they want to do as an offense.