OU position groups to improve: No. 5

Spring football is just over the horizon.

Oklahoma is coming off a banner 2013 campaign featuring an 11-win season and a Sugar Bowl win over SEC power Alabama, yet the Sooners have several position groups they need to address if they hope to make a national title run in 2014. This week, we’ll take a closer look at the top five position groups that need to improve during OU’s spring practices. On Monday, we kick off the series with the Sooners tight ends at No. 5.

The breakdown

On campus: Blake Bell, Sr.; Sam Grant, So.; Connor Knight, So.; Taylor McNamara, So.; Isaac Ijalana, So.

Summer arrival: Carson Meier, Fr.

Summary: The actual numbers are pretty brutal. In 2013, OU had more tight ends on the roster than actual receptions from the position. The Sooners’ four tight ends combined to catch three passes in 13 games. Coaches keep saying they’d like to get the tight ends more involved in the offense. Is 2014 finally the year? Not unless someone steps up at the position to prove they can be a major factor in the passing game.

Bell’s move to tight end gives the Sooners a talented, big target. While his inexperience at the position will be difficult to overcome, he will understand defenses and coverages much better than most tight ends. He’ll have to work hard in the spring to get familiar with the position.

McNamara is the lone returning tight end who had a reception in 2013, a 4-yard catch in the Sugar Bowl. It’s a make-or-break year for the junior in a lot of ways. This spring will be his opportunity to carve himself a role in the offense and force the coaches to use the summer months to devise ways to get him involved in the offensive plans for 2014.

Ijalana is a athletic junior college signee who will have three seasons to make a mark on the program. The Sooners hope he starts making an impact this fall and this spring provides the opportunity to show he's ready to make an impact right away.

Knight, the twin brother of quarterback Trevor Knight, has proven to be a valuable asset who earned himself a spot on the depth chart last season as a walk on. The underdog of the group, he could become a contributor.

Grant is known for his blocking prowess and could become a contributor in running situations. If he shows he can be a factor in the passing game during the spring, he could rise up the depth chart.

Meier will arrive in the summer and could be the most complete prospect of the bunch. He might not make an immediate impact, but he has the skill set to develop into a tight end who can excel in the running game and make defenses account for him in the passing game.