UCLA football preview: tight ends
While Everest-like question marks can be attached to other positions on the offense, tight end seems to be the one spot on solid footing, even if seniors Ryan Moya and Logan Paulsen hobbled around spring practice wearing medical boots.
The absences of Moya (ankle surgery) and Paulsen (broken foot) gave UCLA coaches reason to be concerned in the spring -- so much so that Nate Chandler was shifted back to tight end from offensive tackle. Now offensive coordinator Norm Chow calls it the deepest position on the offense and the place where he has the least worries … for now.
Injuries and other issues created a stockpile at tight end, where the Bruins have multiple personalities, starting with seniors Paulsen and Moya.
Paulsen, who was granted a medical hardship after breaking his foot in the 2008 season opener, is big and alpha-dog physical. Moya, who sat out the 2007 season due to personal reasons, was effective finding seams in the defense and led the team with three touchdown receptions. Both will fill those roles again.
But what makes tight end a Bruin stronghold are Cory Harkey and Morrell Presley.
Harkey, a sophomore, spent the 2008 season on the learning curve and the offseason in the weight room. He is 15 pounds heavier, up to 254 pounds, and is expected to be an effective point of attack tight end, as well as a gifted receiver. Harkey and Paulsen fit well into Coach Rick Neuheisel’s declaration that the Bruins “will be able to run the ball or die trying.”
The freshman Presley, who flipped commitments from USC to UCLA, is the type of tight end with the speed to play wide, which could cause match-up problems for defensive coordinators. He displayed high-end ability to create big plays during spring practice.
What more could the Bruins ask for? Well, Joseph Fauria, a top recruit in 2007, is transferring from Notre Dame and will be eligible in 2010.
Face it, this is probably the only position where Bruins fans can claim complete superiority over their "friends" across town.
-- Chris Foster
Sunday: running backs
Monday: wide receivers
Wednesday: offensive line
Photo: Corey Harkey, center, is congratulated by quarterback Kevin Craft, rear, and Jake Dean after catching the winning touchdown pass against Stanford on Oct. 18, 2008. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press