Spring Review: Tight ends

Position-by-position analysis after NIU spring football

Welcome to the latest edition of “Spring Review.” Today, we’ll take a look at the tight ends and tell you who came out ahead, who needs more work and what you can expect for the start of fall camp.

Believe it or not, tight end was actually a position of great concern for the Northern Illinois coaching staff entering spring football. They were worried about depth and how the younger players would respond with more reps.

As a group, the tight ends came through with improvement in noticeable areas. Some improved their blocking, others their route running and others their hands. The challenge for the fall will be putting a tight end on the field that can do all of those things successfully. At this point, NIU doesn’t have that, but a few players are close.

Most improved: Jason Schepler

Schepler has taken tremendous strides over the past few months and should see an increase in playing time if that continues over the summer.

He stated early on in camp that he wanted to become a better blocker, and the sophomore had about a weeklong stretch where he blocked everything in sight. Schepler produced one of the memorable moments of camp when he pancake blocked defensive end Brandon Bice and finished the block all the way through a long running play. His route running and catching ability have improved from below average to average.

Need to see more: Bryan Beckner

Beckner, a junior, came out of nowhere to have a pretty solid camp. I like how he can create a little bit of separation and finds ways to get open. He also made a few pretty nice catches in the last couple weeks of camp.

What I’ll have my eye on in the fall is if he can do it again. Fall camp, when jobs are really on the line, is a different animal from spring ball. Beckner can work his way onto the two-deep with another good set of practices, but needs to improve as a blocker to do so.

Huskie Wire post-spring depth chart:

Reed Cunningham (senior) OR Jason Schepler (sophomore)

Dan Edem (redshirt freshman)

Bryan Beckner (junior)

Jack Marks (sophomore)

Incoming recruits: Nick Groeniger

Next Spring Review: Offensive line

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