A cross between tight end and wide receiver, the group can bring some flexibility to the North Carolina football team’s offense.
“It’s just kind of like half-man, half-machine, you know,” said redshirt freshman tight end Brandon Fritts. “We can do some of the stuff receivers do — I mean not everything — but we can do some of the stuff receivers do. And we can do some of the stuff that linemen do.”
UNC will need that hybrid versatility at the tight end position this year, as the team returns only one player to the position.
That player, senior Kendrick “Bull” Singleton, has been playing the “Y” position, a cross between tight end and wide receiver, in the Tar Heels’ offensive scheme.
The rest of the group are redshirt or true freshmen. Fritts, in particular, will look to get some playing time this season. The additions of freshmen Jake Bargas and Carl Tucker — who were ranked the No. 13 and No. 4 tight ends in the class of 2015 by ESPN.com — add depth to the unit.
“The hybrids” are close, and while the younger players look up to Singleton, he doesn’t want them to feel like he can’t learn from them, too.
“I tell them, ‘Just because you’re younger than me, that don’t mean you can’t help me out, too,’” he said. “‘If you see me drop a ball, tell me to do 10 pushups. If you see me do something wrong, correct me on it.’”
In 2014, Jack Tabb started at tight end after Eric Ebron departed for the NFL following his junior season.
Tabb, at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, and Ebron, who was 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds while at UNC, were both physically bigger than Singleton and junior receiver Bug Howard, who could also be playing tight end this season when needed in certain formations.
Singleton and Howard are 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, respectively. Fritts is built more like a typical tight end at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds.
“We just try to make up for (the size difference) in the way we block,” Singleton said.
“We’re just doing what we can, and the scheme is little bit different adjusting to that problem. We don’t really run that much attached sets. We split people out wide, so we can have more space in the defense.”
Seth Littrell, the assistant head coach for offense and the tight ends coach, said the variance in body types adds to the versatility of the group.
“You’ve got Bull, who’s more a big receiver who can move around and do some tight end things, and then you’ve got Brandon Fritts, who’s been growing into more of an on-the-line, more of a true tight end body,” he said. “And both those guys have done a lot of good things. The good thing about it is we can be very multiple at what we do at that position.
“It’s a true hybrid group.”