Spring Position Preview: Tight Ends

ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – News flash! Michael Colubiale is NOT coming back to the UCF Football team to play tight end this fall.

OK, that’s a tongue-in-cheek statement. But Colubiale’s NCAA waiver that came through late last spring was certainly a boon for the Knights, who were set to go into the 2018 season without a tight end who had ever caught a pass in an NCAA Division I football game.

Colubiale brought maturity and experience to the tight end position last season. He also contributed heavily on the field. Colubiale was the team’s fourth-leading receiver last year, hauling in 21 passes for an average of 13.2 yards per catch, with three touchdowns.

So, how many receptions do UCF tight ends come into the 2019 season with? Two.

Both of those catches were recorded by rising redshirt junior Jake Hescock last season. One of those went for a touchdown in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game.

“Hescock is continuing to grow. Played well really early,” head coach Josh Heupel said after practice Wednesday. “Then (in) the Navy game he had to play a lot of football because Coubs wasn't playing. I thought he really grew even during the course of that football game. You could see it really start to click for him. He played that way and continued to improve as the season unfolded. I want him to take another step.”

Along with Hescock, Notre Dame transfer Jonathan MacCollister is eligible for the full season in 2019. He did see action in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, becoming eligible following the fall semester. With the new redshirt rule, however, MacCollister will be a red-shirt sophomore during the upcoming season.

“J-Mac got a lot of work until late in training camp last year,” Heupel said. “He was going to have to sit out the year. (He) got a lot of work in bowl prep. (We) need him to continue to accelerate his learning curve and his understanding of what we're doing and playing with better fundamentals. (I) like his skillset and what's doing.”

Rising redshirt junior Anthony Roberson will also provide depth at the position. Roberson has the most experience for the Knights, playing in 12 games mostly on special teams.

Ultimately, Heupel knows everyone in the room will need to continue improving for the tight end position to become the important piece of the offense it has been over the past few seasons.

“We've got to continue to develop all the guys in that room,” Heupel said. “At the end of the day, the strength of a position group can never be one guy. It's got to be the entire group.

Next up in the spring position preview series: Defensive Backs (March 26).