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Louisville Football Position Preview: Tight Ends

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Marshon Ford and company will take on an expanded role this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Music City Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few years ago I went out to the Spring Showcase that Louisville Football put on to see how Scott Satterfield’s first team looked after a few months on the job. The first thing that I noticed was that Marshon Ford was the first Tight End up in every drill and he was running with the first-team offense. At the time I saw it as a huge red flag for where the roster was from a talent standpoint. While I wasn’t totally wrong, Ford wasn’t the reason for that lack of talent.

Scott Satterfield has said multiple times this summer that he will be utilizing Ford in an expanded role as a receiver to help with the loss of Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick. However, another comment that he made stood out to me. Satterfield said that he wanted to make defenses have to wonder what personnel Lousiville was in because Ford is such a factor in everything they do. As a Defensive Coordinator, do you assume he will motion back to the backfield as a blocker if he’s the only Tight End on the field? Maybe they are using him as a true option outside on that play? It’s a way to create deception before the snap which has been a part of this offensive scheme that has worked well.

Ford has been unheralded to a degree with all of the stars on offense but I would be shocked if he doesn’t become the most important player on this offense outside of Jalen Mitchell. He will be an option on third downs, in short-yardage, on the goal line, and he will give Satterfield another option in the traditional passing game now that they will split him out more. Ford should have a big season.

Louisville has some unproven depth in this group but Isaac Martin is a known commodity as Ford’s backup as well as an option as an extra blocker in some sets. Martin should see more time on the field this year with Ford being used in different ways. Martin has been a good blocker for Louisville and his ability to do so probably factors into the staff moving Ford around more. Also, look for Duane martin to get some snaps at the H-Back role. He got a little run late last year.

The “Y” Tight End spot will see new faces on the depth chart from the top down this season. Dez Melton was listed as the starter this summer and I expect him to be the starter in game one. Melton has added the requisite weight needed as he is now up to 250 pounds. If Stu Holt has worked his magic again, we could all be in for a nice surprise as Melton has a much better athletic profile than the guys they’ve been relying on for the last two years.

The backup at this spot will be Francis Sherman. You may remember him from his three catches and a touchdown against Wake Forest last season. Sherman has been a fixture in Strength Coach Mike Sirignano’s “Juice board” since he arrived on campus and it looks like the effort off the field finally paid off for him. Louisville should feel good about putting him on the field with Melton which gives them more depth than they’ve had for most of Satterfield’s tenure.

The Cards landed two Tight Ends in the 2020 recruiting class and both should end up being factors at both of the roles in the offense. However, I don’t know that either will see much of the field this year. Vic Mullen and Christian Pedersen both arrived on campus about a month ago at about 230 pounds. They may need a year to gain some weight and learn the offense.

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I truly believe that Dez Melton will be one of the surprise players on the offense this season. Louisville utilized Ean Pfiefer plenty over the last two seasons but he was obviously limited as a receiving option. Melton was a running back in high school and I think that will be a big factor for him as this offense looks to spread the ball around and involve more players. He will be another option for Malik Cunningham and I think he will find himself as an afterthought by defenses. In my opinion, he will take advantage of that.