The next stop on our whirlwind tour of the Gophers offensive depth will be the tight end position. During 2011 Gopher tight ends caught 33 balls for 331 yards and 5 TDs. The Gophers frequently used 2 tight ends, primarily Collin McGarry and Eric Lair and they accounted for virtually all production from the tight end position. They were both seniors and as a result can't factor into the Gophers plans going forward. As a result, this becomes one of the Gophers least experienced and unproven units moving into 2012 and beyond. The only two tight ends to factor into the Gophers plans really at all during 2011 were John Rabe and Drew Goodger who had 4 and 2 catches respectively. On the bright side 2 of John's catches were TDs.
Moses Alipate: was a highly regarded quarterback recruit in the 2009 class. He was considered the #2 recruit in Minnesota and viewed by ESPN as the #28 quarterback recruit in the country and #128 player overall. Clearly, he has really never seen the field as a quarterback and now that he is a redshirt junior I think it is safe to say that ship has sailed. However, what is still an intriguing possibility is that rumors are they are looking to have Moses move to the tight end position. Moses is 6'5" 276 lbs, so clearly he possesses ideal size for the tight end position. Also, it is a common position transition for many quarterbacks to make. A clear example is Keith Nichol of Michigan St. who moved to tight end to make way for Kirk Cousins and he flourished as a tight end / wide receiver hybrid. Moses has all the athletic ability to become an impact player for the Gophers at the tight end position. What remains to be seen is whether he can accept this new role. If Kill can motivate Moses, look for him to become our top tight end by the end of the 2012 season.
Conclusion: I think it is quite clear this is perhaps the barest part of the Gophers team talent wise right now. I think John Rabe and Drew Goodger can be serviceable, but never really anything more than that. In addition, John Rabe is a senior. The key cog to this position is whether Moses can finally find his way onto the playing field as a tight end. I have concerns as to whether he can commit himself, but if he does it is a huge positive for our depth. Plus, Moses has the athletic ability to be a difference maker at the position, much the way MarQueis natural ability aids our wide receiving corp. The X factor will be the growth and development of Maxx Williams. I will stick my neck out and say he will be a special player for the Gophers in the years ahead and continue in the proud tradition of players like Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht. If Maxx pans out we have a solid starter for the foreseeable future, but depth will remain a major concern.