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Cal Football

Cal Fall Camp Preview: Tight Ends

August 4, 2022
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Our fourth installment of Bear Insider's fall camp preview checks in on the tight ends, with comments from TE coach Geep Chryst

As with the receiving corps, the 2022 season sees a large amount of turnover from last season’s starters and depth chart.

Gone are former senior starters or contributors Jake Tonges, Collin Moore and Gavin Reinwald. In both are two athletic and talented sophomores Jermaine Terry and Keleki Latu vying for the starting nod and primary backup this season.

Both Terry and Latu had impressive spring ball sessions, though Latu was limited with a wrap on his hand throughout most of the sessions.

“Overall, coming into camp, it's always exciting when everyone is healthy; that's
the first good news,” said Chryst. “And then you’ve got the two young kids that played as true freshmen last year, starting with Jermaine Terry who's going to be wearing number four, his old high school number compared to 87 last year, but, Jermaine's really come into his own, and he's done a nice job.

“When he came in from Kennedy High School in the East Bay here, he was probably closer to 270. Right now, he's down closer to 250 and really playing well both as a blocker and as a receiver, so he'll see the field first if we break the huddle with the starting group; he's our guy. Jermaine just continues to develop, and so I think everyone on the team is excited about Jermaine. He's got a natural skill set, and he's really done well from a leadership perspective for a young player and really even done well in school, so he just has come into his own. He hasn't played a whole lot of snaps for us, but he's got great upside so that's the guy most people would probably see breaking the huddle.”

Many see the 6-4/255 Terry as mainly an inline blocker but Chryst noted that Terry’s much more than a big body.

“First off, he does a great job of once he catches the ball,” said Chryst. “He can transition into being the difficult man to tackle, so in the spring, there were a couple of catches where he wanted to take on safety or a linebacker and drop his shoulders, but we just had shoulder pads and shorts on. But he's got great ability to transition from his catching as a reliable and consistent receiver, and he's got some good top-end speed, too, so that's the part that's probably most exciting about Jermaine. He's a real three-down tight end. He can block, get first downs, play action on the second down, and get you a first down on third down.”

6-6/230 soph Latu was a pleasant surprise in 2021, where he was playing some of his first reps as a tight end after mainly playing on defense in high school. He was also slightly built, at close to 210. He’s added solid strength and weight in the offseason and now tips the scales at a more solid 230. Though he didn’t see many balls, he did manage to haul in 3 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown against Colorado in Cal’s victory over the Buffs at Memorial.

“The guy that's neck and neck with Jermaine, is Keleki Latu, who had the touchdown against Colorado.  Again, a true freshman who played last year earned the right to play last year,” said Chryst. “He's honoring Jake Tonges by wearing number 85; he was 40 last year, and now that Tonny's out with the Chicago Bears, Keleki's got a great spirit about himself, and he really appreciated the way that Jake and all the other senior tight ends that were with us last year really took him under his wing and mentored him. What a great little sidebar, what a great compliment he could pay to a teammate.”

Next off the bench and likely to see time at tight end?

“Let's start with #88 Nick Alftin and #81 Elijah Mojarro. Nick, to begin with, is on the preseason all-conference team for special teams, and both he and Mojo did a heck of a job of kickoff cover, which is an unusual spot for tight ends to play,” said Chryst. “Normally we'll have the fast safety/linebacker types, but Nick was voted last year as the team's most valuable special teams player.

“He's got a great spirit. He's a tight end out of Archbishop Mitty over here in the bay area, and we love using him. He's a big physical guy- we love using him on our wham block and some of the other areas where we just want to come downhill and attack running the ball. Nick's great at that.

“Mojo really came into his own, played a lot of snaps in the Washington State game, but then he also earned a spot on the kickoff cover unit. That's big to everybody, including our head coach, who thinks that the greatest honor you can have on a team is to be part of the ten guys that are on kickoff cover because they have to do a little bit of everything. They have to run, they have to hit, they have to play with spirit and be unselfish, so those two guys I would start next.

“Nick's more of a run specialist and Mojo is more of a receiving specialist, but we've got to give them time during this training camp to have them define their role, especially with 16 Collin Moore gone and Tonny 85, of course, gone and then Gavin Reinwald.

“We've got some playing time opportunities that we have to define for ourselves, but those two I'd go with just because you know they're going to be on the field with special teams, so you'll want to fold them into some offensive plays as well.”

Next up is 6-5/235 redshirt soph Jake Muller.

“Just behind them is Jake Muller, #46,” said Chryst. “He had that ankle injury last year, and according to the strength and conditioning guys, he's had a really great summer, and like how we mention in baseball games, we need to give Muller a lot of the middle innings during this camp. Get him some at-bats and give him a chance to finally be healthy and really show us what he wants to do. So just behind those guys, it's Jake Muller.”

Spring ball saw some movement of a pair of players switching sides of the ball in former linebackers Andy Alfieri (6-3/245 rs soph) and (6-5/240 rs frosh PWO Jeffrey Johnson.

“In the spring, we did take two guys that were on defense, Jeffrey Johnson and Andy Alfieri, and Andy's really going to probably play the role that Gavin played last year. Is he a tight end? Is he a fullback? He has hands, he's got good speed, he's got good toughness, so it's just time on task. Again those middle to late innings during training camp, I think we can find a really nice role for Andy.

“He's a lot of fun to have around. The first time we moved him from defense to offense, he caught a wheel route and scored, immediately turned around, and the entire defense was laughing. So that's kind of our wildcard, our joker in our deck of cards because he could really turn into something fairly unique.”

Another new addition is PWO frosh TE Jack Endries, who bypassed several mid-major offers to play for Cal.

“We're also really excited about Jack Endries, a true freshman who you haven't seen; he'll be wearing 87,” said Chryst. “He comes from nearby Monte Vista. He can run, but he's one of the best high school receivers I've ever seen track a ball in the air. He will be on our roster, and he will be fighting to make the travel squad, but if he proves himself as he did at Monte Vista, I could see him getting on the field like we saw Jermaine and Keileki as true freshmen last year.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of our fall camp preview with comments from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave on Cal’s quarterback corps.

Related:

Cal Fall Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

Cal Fall Camp Preview: Offensive Line

ball Cal Fall Camp Preview: Running Backs

 
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