Over the final few days of the offseason, we at WRNL are going to be breaking down every position group from the quarterbacks down to the special teams. I’ll be looking over what the tight end core has lost and gained since last season, where they stand headed into the season, and what my expectations are for the unit this year.
The tight ends are coached by Alex Golesh who has done an excellent job transforming the room from a bunch of also-fans to an important part of the offense. However, Tom Manning is back from his year long stint with the Indianapolis Colts where he was the tight ends coach. The Colts ended up having one of the best duos in the league with Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. Ebron went from a bust in Detroit to one of the best in the league, and Doyle came back from an injury and dominated immediately. Manning probably had a lot to do with that.
The only loss from last year’s team is a loss that won’t show up in the stat sheet, but it’ll be apparent in terms of impact. Seonbuchner was one of the best blockers on the team throughout his tenure with Iowa State, flying under the radar in impact just because he didn’t need the ball to be effective. Nonetheless, he still recorded five catches during his senior season, including his first career touchdown.
Seonbuchner played the F position, which is a slot back or hybrid tight end mostly relied on to block and seal edges. He leaves a void in the offense that will need to be filled if Iowa State wants to be effective outside of the tackles.
This guy technically isn’t a newcomer, but he just played on special teams last year for his second season on the team. He’s going to be a redshirt sophomore this season and backup Dylan Soener at the F position. Latusek is 6’3, 248 pounds and is built like a bowling ball. I haven’t gotten the chance to see much footage of Latusek, but I know that when he comes in, he will bring rock solid blocking and fierce intensity.
A 6’3 true freshman from San Jose. I did a film breakdown on him last month, and he’s a fast tight end who uses that speed to his advantage while running crisp routes against slower linebackers. Loving-Black will probably see the field a little bit this year, but not enough to burn his redshirt. When we see him, look for him over the middle, because that is where he thrives.
The true freshman was recruited as a quarterback and will still probably play there in practice, but he has been getting looks at tight end during fall camp thanks to his frame. He stands at 6’6 and 230 pounds with uncommon speed and strength for his frame. He’s the type of player that Joel Lanning and Colin Klein were, which would translate to tight end pretty easily. Dean is stuck behind Brock Purdy and Re-Al Mitchell, with Hunter Dekkers and Aidan Bouman coming in next year at quarterback. Odds are that Dean will need a position change if he wants to impact this team in the next couple years.
Leader of the Pack
This guy came on the scene last year as a fairly unknown redshirt freshman, but came in and dominated. As soon as he was on the field, he was easily the best tight end in the cardinal and gold since EJ Bibbs.
Kolar stands at 6’6, 252 pounds, which gives him a huge size advantage over most defenders, but has the wheels to be dangerous in the vertical game as well. His size and willingness also helps him be one of the better blocking tight ends in the conference.
Kolar, the freshman, was one of the favorite targets of his fellow freshman teammate, Brock Purdy. The connection (and great hands) led to a really good stat line at the end of the season and a lot of accolades.
Kolar played in all 13 games and had 11 receptions for 137 yards while catching three touchdowns. He didn’t have very many catches as a freshman, but the significance of his catches combined with his blocking was enough to earn him All Big 12 Second Team honors.
This upcoming season, Kolar could realistically be Purdy’s top option. With Hakeem Butler gone and no clear number one receiver, Kolar will certainly have an increase in targets. If he makes the expected freshman to sophomore year jump, he’s going to be the best tight end in the Big 12.
Don’t Forget About
Chase Allen came into the Iowa State football program with high expectations, rightfully so. He was a highly touted recruit that filled an immediate need. Unfortunately, injuries and Charlie Kolar have shadowed the quality play of Allen in his first two seasons in Ames.
Chase Allen is going to be a redshirt junior and he stands at 6’7 and 245 pounds, a very similar frame to Charlie Kolar. Allen’s best season came in 2017 when he played in all 13 games and made the All Big 12 Second Team. He had just four receptions for 39 yards, but his elite blocking was enough to place him as one of the top tight ends in the conference.
The 2018 season was riddled with injuries again, as he played in eight games with an increase in production as a receiver while keeping up the high-level blocking. In eight games, Allen had eight catches for 84 yards. His production should continue to rise again this year as the offense looks to incorporate them more into the passing scheme.
If Allen is healthy, he is one of the best tight ends in the conference, and I can’t wait to watch him develop into a star this year.
The new starting F back was the backup for Sam Seonbuchner last season and did a great job filling in when needed. Soehner, the redshirt junior, is a freak of nature standing at 6’7 and 270 (!!) pounds, the guy is freaking massive and loves to hit people.
Last season he played on every special teams unit and was also used in power running situations at the goal line. He caught his first and only career reception against Iowa, mainly because he was almost never in on a pass play. This season, he will be used as a flanker and in motion on a lot of plays. The F position isn’t really that important from the outside looking in, but a great player at that position can be the difference between a good run and a great run.
Soener gets to step into the role where he will never be a fan favorite or talked about by the commentators, and that’s alright. With Soener in the Dustin Hogue role, he’s going to be one of my favorite players this year. He’s going to seal edges and crush defensive ends and linebackers, and that’s pretty freaking awesome.
I think that Tom Manning will be super creative in getting the three main guys (Kolar, Allen, Soehner) rotated between the two postions. Kolar is going to be the top target in terms of receptions,while Allen will be the main guy blocking from the TE position while also doing damage in the flats, and Soehner will be the primary blocker who will be shifting in motion a lot.
Kolar and Allen were both really good last season, but that was just scratching the surface. These two have a legit shot at being the best duo in the conference and they even have a chance at being the best targets on the team. Brock Purdy will be looking for these two a lot, and as long as they catch it, they’re going to be all-conference level players.
These two have a chance to be the type of duo that our friends out east had last season. Probably not to that level, but they could put up similar numbers.
My predictions for them probably won’t be right thanks to my cardinal covered glasses and below-average math skills, but I’ll give it a try. I’m gonna say that Kolar has 32 catches for 384 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Allen flies more under the radar with 21 catches 273 yards and 2 touchdowns. Again, don’t go throw money down on these predictions, because I don’t know how logical they are, but I think it’s a safe guess if Iowa State goes with some more tight end-focused sets from the Colts.