Next up in our recruiting series for the upcoming season is Skylar Loving-Black, a 6’3 and 220 pound tight end out of San Jose, CA. Loving-Black is a three star, and the highest-rated tight end in Iowa State’s 2019 class according to 247sports.
Loving-Black is coming into a tight end group that has surprisingly developed into an elite one over the past couple seasons. Redshirt sophomore Charlie Kolar and redshirt junior Chase Allen make up one of the best tight end duos in the Big 12. However, after those two, there are no returning players who had any significant snaps at that position. This means Loving-Black will have a chance to compete for some snaps during his freshman season.
One player’s absence on the offense that won’t be apparent on the stat sheet, but will be missed from blocking standpoint, is Sam Seonbuchner. He played the F spot and was crucial in the running game and the screen passing game. Skylar Loving-Black has the potential to be a good blocker, so we could potentially see him in that position as an underclassmen.
Loving-Black moved from San Diego to lovely Ames, Iowa yesterday, and will start summer camp in the coming weeks.
Skylar Loving-Black is about average size when it comes to tight ends in a Power 5 conference. Standing at 6’3, 220 pounds, Loving-Black can use his size over smaller defenders. In the red zone, he is physical in going over the top of defenders while securing the catch with strong hands. He also can use his elite speed on underneath routes, or to create separation on downfield routes.
Loving-Black is also a good blocker, despite his higher center of gravity. He does a good job of getting low and using his lower body strength to seal out edges when he’s blocking.
Here’s a play where Loving-Black’s speed is on full display. The play is a pretty simple screen play where SLB catches the ball in a bunch of traffic. He manages to catch it while preparing to sidestep and maneuver his way through the crowd of people. Once he gets through the pile, he’s off to the races after one of his lineman seals the edge.
Loving-Blacks shows off his unique speed and elusiveness for a kid that size on this play. Some things can’t can’t be taught, and speed and size are two of those things.
If there is one thing that you can never have enough of, it’s red zone targets. With Hakeem Butler leaving for the NFL, there will be a huge need for a big body to catch some balls in the end zone. Skylar Loving-Black certainly fits that criteria.
On this play, SLB runs a short post route towards the back of the end zone. The linebacker that picks him up has decent size and gets good position on the bigger tight end. Loving-Blacks responds to that by almost posting up and using brute strength to go up and catch the touchdown pass. He’s almost held back by the defender latching on to him, but SLB still finds a way to get both hands on the ball and make a strong catch.
Here’s a thirty-yard corner route which SLB uses to show off some of his contested ball skills. Instead of being covered by a linebacker closer to his size, he’s picked up by a much smaller cornerback who does a good job of getting up in his grill without drawing a flag. The quarterback under-throws the ball slightly, which forces Loving-Black to come back and make the catch over the smaller defender.
This type of catch is something that we’ve seen a ton over the past few seasons with Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler. SLB has the potential to help fill the void that is left by two of the best receivers in school history. Obviously, he has a long way to go and is pretty raw, but the frame, strength, and speed all have the potential to become a very good hybrid TE/WR.
This is just a simple fade route where the quarterback placed it perfectly in stride for Loving-Black. There isn’t anything special that he does on this route, just because it’s a pretty basic route. However, once SLB was in the end zone he made a great catch while high pointing the ball. Catching the ball while fading away is one of the hardest in the sport and he made this look easy.
I’m gonna be honest. I am not an expert when it comes to blocking, but, on this play, Loving-Black seals the edge by driving a defensive end to the ground while making him look dumb. However, I have no idea if he did it with proper form. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s a good blocker if he’s making defenders look this weak and bad.
Mark Andrews from the 2017 Oklahoma team is who came to my mind while I was watching Skylar Loving-Black’s film. In case you forgot, Andrew was on the infamous Sooner team that fell to the Kyle Kempt-led Iowa State Cyclones by a score of 38-31, which some people do forget. However, Andrews wasn’t part of the problem that day against Iowa State. In fact, he was very good that day, much like the rest of his career.
During his time in Norman, Andrews was a fast, strong, good route runner with a good pair of hands. He was one of Baker Mayfield’s favorite targets throughout his career, and was a reliable, do-it-all player. Andrews went on to get drafted in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens.
The expectation for SLB shouldn’t be third round pick, but by the time he’s an upperclassmen, I would look for him to make a similar impact to that of Mark Andrews.
Here are some of Andrews’ highlights in the crimson and white.
I feel like I’m writing the same thing every week; Skylar Loving-Black will fit like a glove into Iowa State’s system. It’s not an accident that every player is a good fit, because Matt Campbell & Co. know exactly what they’re doing. For this reason, I’m excited to see what Skylar Loving-Black can do in the cardinal & gold.
As a freshman, my guess would be that he will redshirt while playing up to four games. In those four games that he plays in, throwing to him in the red zone to overpower defenses is an effective way of utilizing his potential.
Skylar Loving-Black is putting himself in a good position by coming to Iowa State. He gets to come in and learn behind two of the best tight ends in the Big 12 in Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen. Most importantly, he will be coached by Tom Manning. In case you forgot, Manning left for a season to go coach tight ends for the Indianapolis Colts. In his time in the NFL, Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron became one of the best duos in the NFL overnight.
With Manning coming back to Ames, look for all of the tight ends to make a huge leap, Loving-Black included.