University of Missouri

Production from MU’s tight ends a departure from past

Updated: 2013-09-20T20:14:10Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— During the last decade, Missouri emerged as a tight end factory.

The Tigers produced Chase Coffman, who won the 2008 John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, and three other NFL prospects — Martin Rucker, Michael Egnew and Dwayne Blakley.

However, production from the tight ends has dried up under first-year offensive coordinator Josh Henson with 6-foot-5, 245-pound senior Eric Waters and 6-6, 245-pound redshirt freshman Sean Culkin combining for two catches and 17 yards through two games.

“We’re helping out in the run game a lot and the majority of time we’re in a three-point stance,” Culkin said. “We spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to get bigger, faster and stronger to help with our blocking and help our run game some. Right now, that’s what we’re being called to do.”

Of course, it’s a stark departure from recent Tigers history.

“In the past, they’ve spent a lot of time in the slot as almost big wide receivers and they got the ball to them a lot during the game,” Culkin said. “But I also knew that going to the SEC they wanted to transition to more of true tight ends. Either way, I’m happy.”

Waters, who has split snaps evenly with Culkin, also doesn’t seem to mind.

“We want to be able to do both,” Waters said. “It puts defense in a bind when you have guys who are multi-dimensional.”

Henson insists he hasn’t given up on getting the tight ends more involved in the passing attack.

“I’m not concerned about it,” Henson said. “I think, as we go, they’re going to pop up here and there and have their games. … Maybe their receiving numbers aren’t what you’re traditionally used to, although I think they’re going to catch more balls as we go along.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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