Spring Preview: Tight Ends

Spring Preview: Tight Ends

Jay Rao
Over the years, UM has earned the title as Tight End U. From Bubba Franks to Jeremy Shockey to Kellen Winlsow II to Greg Olsen to Jimmy Graham, the Canes have produced a galaxy of NFL stars. Even during the lean years of the program, Miami continued to crank out NFL tight ends. With the departure of Chris Herndon, the Canes enter spring practice with only two returning tight ends on scholarship—Michael Irvin Jr. and Brian Polendey. Can Irvin or Polendey step up their game? Or will a true freshman become the next star at Tight End U?

Lack of Experienced Depth
First, Canes fans should be very concerned about the current state of the tight end position. Not only is Miami dangerously paper thin on depth this spring, the lack of production among the returnees is even more alarming. Michael Irvin Jr. is the only returning tight end with any significant playing experience. In 2017, he caught just 9 passes for 78 yards last year as a sophomore. Polendey saw action in just 6 games as a true freshman, playing mostly on special teams. However, each player does bring some skills and potential to the table.

Michael Irvin Jr: Playmaker or Troublemaker?
The name Michael Irvin is one of the most iconic in the history of Hurricane football. The younger Irvin knows all about the pressures of carrying on a tradition. He has played at the same high school (St. Thomas Aquinas) and university where his father was a legend. But does Irvin Jr. have the game to match his name? At 6’3 and 248 pounds with 4.6 speed and soft hands, Irvin Jr. has the physical tools to be an outstanding tight end. Unfortunately, Irvin has spent more time in Mark Richt’s doghouse than making plays on the field. He has already served two suspensions for breaking team rules. Ironically, the drive and work ethic that made his father a great player has yet to surface in the younger Irvin. On the field, he started the last 2 games of the season against Clemson and Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. In those starts, Irvin caught just 5 passes for 29 yards—far below the standard set by his predecessors at The U.

This spring is the most crucial stage of Michael Irvin Jr’s young football career. He has the size, speed and bloodlines to be a great player. So far, Irvin’s lack of focus and discipline has made the talented junior his own worst enemy. He must take his game to another level and improve his blocking at the point of attack. Expect Irvin to enter the fall as the starter. But if he doesn’t show significant improvement, he will likely get passed over on the depth chart by promising true freshmen Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory.

Brian Polendey: A Diamond in the Rough?
Not much is known or expected of Brian Polendey. He came to UM last year as an early enrollee out of Denton, TX. Even his high school stats are skimpy. Polendey caught only 9 passes for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns his junior year at Guyer High School. He spent most of his senior year playing defensive end. Polendey is almost the polar opposite of Irvin. Born in Oregon, he didn’t start playing organized football until the eighth grade. His parents moved from the State of Washington to Texas when Polendey was in the 10th grade.

At 6’6 and 230 pounds, Polendey earned a reputation as an outstanding blocker. He played on a high school team that ran the ball nearly 90 percent of the time. This spring, Polendey will have the opportunity to get more reps in practice and develop his receiving skills. Although he is somewhat limited in the passing game, expect Polendey’s role to expand in 2018 as a blocking tight end on short yardage and goal line situations—an area where Miami struggled mightily last year. With the absence of Chris Herndon, it is vital for Mark Richt and tight ends coach Todd Hartley to find a tight end who can block effectively in the running game.

Help is on the Way
With only two scholarship tight ends presently on the roster, the Canes will get a much needed boost from true freshmen Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory in the fall. Many recruiting experts rated Jordan as the best tight end recruit for 2018. Although there will be a huge learning curve, expect Jordan to be the most likely player to carry on the tradition at Tight End U.

Comments (33)

The Freshman will be the starters IMO. Really shocked that Irvin didn't pan out...thus far.
I think Polendy's issue right now is getting acclimated to college-level S&C. He's a "blocking TE" but he needs to get stronger to really hold his own against real competition.
The drop-off from Herndon's blocking to Irvin's blocking was HUGE.

That's a major issue that needs to be fixed, either by Irvin improving or by someone else taking his spot.
Virtually no experience at the TE position.

Not a good situation to be in - especially since it was quite fixable.
Irvin definitely doesn’t run a 4.6

Hoping he steps up this spring tho.
OP, you left out Glenn Dennison who was probably the first in the line. If I remember correctly, he caught the first TD in that first NC game. Dangerous to start any list of Cane greats -- you just can't get them all. I'm sure someone will **** up with a couple more.
OP, you left out Glenn Dennison who was probably the first in the line. If I remember correctly, he caught the first TD in that first NC game. Dangerous to start any list of Cane greats -- you just can't get them all. I'm sure someone will **** up with a couple more.

I hear you. I know all about Glenn Dennison, Willie Smith, Charles Henry Alfredo Roberts, Rob Chudzinski, Randy Bethel and Coleman Bell back in the day. Without giving away my age, I've been following the Canes for over 30 years. But I started with Bubba Franks because he was the first in a string of Cane tight ends to get drafted in the first round.
Honestly Brevin is gunna start no question imo.
Irvin Jr is gunna do something stupid and get suspended again.
Mallory is primarily going to be used in the flex, he's not big enough to be inline at this point.
Im hoping Polendey is up to closer to 250lbs than this bs 230lbs he's listed at. Thats way too ******* light for him to be making an impact as an inline blocking TE for us, and thats what he needs to do if he wants to see the field.
I may be in the minority regarding my view on our TE situation, but I am not worried at all. It is not smart to wage all bets on true freshmen, but Jordan is that "special" type of player that should not be projected the same way as a typical freshman TE. Instant impact, instant star!

Also, Mallory is a beast in his own right. I got a chance to see him play for two years and he murdered everyone that was matched up against him, including some of the high profile 4/5 DBs & LBs in this area. He is faster than 3/4 of the WR's on our current roster.

Because of Jordan and Mallory, we will see the best version of Irvin come fall camp. I see our TE situation as a strength heading into next season, even with the lack of experience at the collegiate level.
Are we still going to the "I" formation this year cuz if we are we better **** sure get some blocking out of these TE's.
Let the freshmen play when the formations call for TEs. We have enough talent at WR to spread the field/defense on every down.
Jordan looks like a Jr. in college. I think with him and Irvin we will be just fine. If Mallory is strong enough it would be nice to see him play but I could see him possibly RS since he seems to be pretty thin.
IMO BOTH freshmen Jordan and Mallory will play a LOT this year. I think either is better as is than what we have now.

Irvin was a tweener. Too slow to be a WR and never took to blocking well.

Unfortunately for him now he's is history. Because both Freshman bring more to the table than Irvin can, size, speed, blocking etc. Both are also nightmares to cover in the red zone.

I agree that Mallory can stand a few lbs but he can gain that quickly before the Fall. His size and speed will put him as #2 behind Jordan

I think Irvin will transfer after the Spring.