UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State returns a trio of tight ends who know a thing or two about playing a key role in Coach O'Brien's offense.
Kyle Carter, Jesse James and Matt Lehman combined for 75 receptions and 10 touchdowns during the 2012 season. Training camp is now three days old, and the veteran tight ends feel like things are off to a good start for a productive 2013 campaign.
"So far, things have been going well in camp," Carter said. "We have two young quarterbacks, and the tight ends can really help them come along because we can be a safety blanket. We have a group of guys who are big targets for the quarterbacks. It is important for us to continue developing a rapport with these two young guys."
In Coach O'Brien's offense, the tight end can be split into two positions - Y and F. A 'Y' tight end is a bigger player, a good blocker and a guy who runs intermediate routes and short intermediate routes. The 'F' tight end is what O'Brien labels as a "move guy". The 'F' is a bit more versatile in his receiver-like skills. All of the Nittany Lion tight ends enjoy the nature of the position, and the trio of returnees said year two in the system is a lot different than year one.
"We are taking what we learned in year one and building on it now," James said. "Camp has been more about review of the stuff we already know. As a group, we are just working on getting better each day and moving forward with what we already learned last year."
Lehman, who is on schedule to graduate on Saturday with a degree in kinesiology, said it is a tough position to learn, but a challenge that he and the other tight ends find enjoyable.
"We line up all over the place - fullback, slot receiver, outside - it's fun, but it's a lot to learn," Lehman said. "Being a tight end, we need to be good blockers, but our role in the receiving game is a lot of fun."
Joining the three retuning players in the tight end stable for 2013 are redshirt freshman Brent Wilkerson and true freshman Adam Breneman. The group is poised to play a central role in the Penn State offense.
"The entire group is just excited about being really involved in the offense, and maybe even more than last year," Lehman said.
Penn State practiced with shoulder pads on for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. The Nittany Lions will practice once on Thursday and once on Friday before Saturday's first full-padded practice. Saturday is also the first two-a-day of training camp.
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Training Camp Spotlight - Tight Ends
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