Spring Preview: Tight Ends
Coming into this season one of the biggest question marks for the team is probably this group. Therefore, without any further comment, let's take a look.
Our next group to preview: Tight Ends
At the moment there are 7 tight ends listed on the roster. One Senior, three Juniors, and three freshman. Terrell McDonald is the only tight end with significant playing time. The tallest among the group is Maleak Bryant who stands at 6'6". The farthest from home is Bryce Damous. He calls Huntington, West Virginia home. The closest to home is Clay Smelley. He comes from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Let's take a look at the tight end group.
#10 Terrell McDonald - 6'2" 230lbs - Redshirt Junior
Terrell will come in as the most seasoned player in the group. He has played in 21 games as a Blazer. Although most of his time on the field has been spent as a blocking tight end/hybrid full back. That is more obvious when you look at his receiving that only totals 14 yards. Interesting to note that McDonald was a Quarterback in high school who has transitioned to the tight end role with the Blazers. Will Terrell get more passes thrown his way with the departure of Hayden Pittman?
#80 Maleak Bryant - 6'6" 240lbs - Redshirt Senior
Bryant spent most of last season rehabbing from a spring injury. The season before he saw time in 3 games without recording any stats. The 6'6" tight end did spend 2019 with the Miami University (Ohio) Redhawks. Before his injury Maleak was expected to get some time in the tight end rotation in 2021. The big tight end has the size and speed to give any linebacker problems. Bryant will get his chance to earn his time this season.
#84 Dallas Payne - 6'4" 225lbs - Junior
Dallas Payne comes from the state of Mississippi. He has spent his time in the JUCO ranks most recently at Northeast Mississippi CC. His offensive coordinator at Northeast was non other than former UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely. At UAB Dallas will convert over to tight end. He has played his whole football career as a wide receiver. Dallas' senior year in high school saw him end with 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns. Look for him to step in and try to take over for the role that Gerrit Prince has left.
#88 Brody Dalton - 6'5" 245lbs - Redshirt Freshman
Brody only appeared in one game last season for the Blazers. Dalton is a big kid from a solid high school program that is a proven winner. Fyffe high school, where Brody played, is a staple in the football state championships here in the state of Alabama. If we were to compare Brody to a player I would say he plays much like Prince although bigger and maybe not as fast. One thing is for certain, you cant teach size and for such a young player he definitely has size.
#48 Bryce Damous - 6'2" 225lbs - Redshirt Junior
Tight end Bryce Damous is a walk-on from Garden City CC. He only played in one game last year as a Blazer. In high school he played defensive line for Huntington High School, which sits a mere 4 miles away from Marshall University. Once again with the loss of all production at the tight end position Bryce will look to cement his spot in the starting rotation.
#38 Mike Crawford - 6'3" 245lbs - Redshirt Freshman
Crawford comes to UAB from Spanish Fort High School. Some might say we have some good luck with players from Spanish Fort seeing as former tight end Hayden Pittman and quarterback Tyler Johnston III both played there. Crawford was a defensive player in high school and will be switching to the offensive side of the ball while at UAB.
#85 Clay Smelley - 6'3" 220lbs - Redshirt Freshman
Clay is a Freshman from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He fits in perfectly with the tight end/hybrid fullback that UAB likes to run. He was the team captain and First Team All-West Alabama in 6A.
Not Listed on the Roster:
J.C. Sivley - 6'5" 230lbs
The 3 star tight end from Helena High School (AL) is not officially on the UAB roster. Most likely he will be signing in the summer after he graduates high school. J.C. is a long athletic tight end with good speed that will fit the UAB offense. Although he will be coming in during the summer I believe you could see him challenge for some playing time soon.
What is the conclusion on the tight end position? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. If you are looking for one of the most fierce battles during this spring, leading all the way until the season starts than look no further than this group. With the departures of long time starter Hayden Pittman and Gerrit Prince there will be ample amounts of playing time. Could we see Terrell McDonald step in and be more than just a run blocker? Will new comer Dallas Payne take his wide receiver abilities and translate it over to the tight end spot making for one explosive player? Maleak? Brody? J.C.? What does the future hold for these players? I believe the starter for game one will be McDonald. After that it is a toss up. Pay attention to this position group! This competition will be exciting!