It’s hard to feel confident in a position group when there isn’t a single senior in the meeting room, but Oregon's tight ends are one of the team's deepest and most experienced groups.
The Ducks return rising junior Pharaoh Brown and rising sophomores Johnny Mundt and Evan Baylis. In 2013, those three accounted for five touchdowns and 475 yards on just 30 receptions, and with another offseason under their belts, more can be expected during the spring game and next fall.
“I think we can contribute a lot more,” Baylis said. “We’re all a lot more comfortable and we know more about the system and can really understand the offense. [The coaches] can trust us more to put in more tight end packages and involve us more in the offense now that we have a better understanding.”
Mundt described the offseason as “intense,” because they all wanted to make sure they came into this spring as ready as possible. With the Ducks losing their No. 1 and No. 3 receivers, the tight ends might be looked at more by quarterback Marcus Mariota in the passing game. There also is a big push by the offensive line this offseason to become more physical, so they need to be ready to handle serious blocking duties as well.
“We were all pushing each other in the weight room and in conditioning,” Mundt said. “We’ve all put on weight and gotten better and stronger. It’s going to be exciting.”
“We put in a lot of hard work,” Baylis added. “We were making sure we were all at [7-on-7s] and all the extra work, getting in reps with the quarterbacks, lifting in the weight room, just making sure we were ready and would be in good shape to produce as tight ends this season.”
Baylis said the biggest difference between the group last season and this spring is mainly in accountability. With another year in the program, every player has matured and is focusing even more than he did last season.
And with each player maturing as an individual, the group as a whole is making strides forward to be a reliable, deeper position group for the Ducks offense.
“We’re not accepting mental mistakes and small, little things,” Baylis said. “We expect more out of ourselves and our group.”