July 24, 2006

Big shoes to fill

Pre-season football practices are about two weeks ago, and it's time to start taking a position by position look at the defending champion Texas Longhorns. Up next is a look at the tight end position.

Gone are David Thomas and his team-leading 50 receptions. In his place, the Horns will utilize a two-headed attack in the form of Neale Tweedie and redshirt freshman Jermichael Finley.

Neale Tweedie - Tweedie is a guy that's bounced around from position to position throughout his Longhorn career, but he's found his home at tight end and he should be a key contributor this fall.

As a former offensive lineman, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Tweedie is known for his blocking skills. However, he's a better receiver than many would expect and he's a deceptive threat in the passing game. And once Tweedie gets his hands on the ball with a head of steam, it's like trying to tame a rampaging bull.

Tweedie actually started four games last year and recorded two receptions for 49 yards and a score. He and Finley will be on the field quite a bit this year in two tight end sets, so expect his numbers to increase dramatically.

Jermichael Finley - Finley spent last year as a redshirt but he made waves working out with the scout team and he's carried it over into summer workouts. At 6-5, Finley is an extraordinary athlete that is an absolute mismatch in the passing game. Try to cover him with a DB, and he'll go up and pluck the ball out of the sky. Put a linebacker on him, and Finley can slip behind the coverage for a big gain.
His hands are among the best that Texas has seen in the past several years, and he could be poised to kick off a promising career starting in the season opener.

Pound for pound, Finley ranks right up there with any athlete on the Longhorn roster. In high school, he set school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns while also starring on the basketball court, where he averaged 24 points and 20 rebounds as a senior.

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