The tight end position across the landscape of college football is brimming with talent. As teams embrace spread passing game concepts and defenses adjust by utilizing smaller personnel and flooding the back end with bodies in coverage, offenses are beginning to utilize tight ends more and more. Tight ends can present a size and athleticism mismatch to opposing defenses and keep the chains moving. The Utah Utes offense lives in two and three-tight-end sets and boasts two of the top receiving tight ends in college football in Dalton Kincaid and Brant Kuithe. The duo could have easily declared for the 2022 NFL Draft but believe there is unfinished business to accomplish at Utah and are set to return for the coming season.
Bringing back both tight ends is welcomed news for head coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, as the Utes are set to defend its first-ever Pac-12 Championship. Utah is slated to return 60 letter winners and 17 total starters from last year’s squad. Among those 17 starters are quarterback Cameron Rising and running back Tavion Thomas, both of whom delivered breakout seasons for Utah in 2021 and should take another step in 2022.
Kuithe and Kincaid combined to haul in 86 receptions for 1,1121 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021. Kuithe led the Utes in receiving while Kincaird snagged the most touchdown receptions. The tandem accounted for 37% of the Utes’ passing production and there’s no reason to not believe even more production is coming in 2022.
While individually Kincaid and Kuithe are strong weapons, their skill sets complement each other and stress opponents in different ways.
Where Brant Kuithe Wins and Areas for Growth
A three-time All-Pac-12 selection entering 2022, Kuithe is already a highly accomplished player for Utah. Kuithe’s versatility as a pass catcher shines for the Utes where he is used as an in-line option, from the slot, and out of the backfield.
While most college tight ends run a limited route tree, the same cannot be said for Kuithe who has experience attacking all levels of the field and executing routes with multiple breaks. He is fluid in and out of breaks with the ability to separate from man coverage and find space against zone. Kuithe is outstanding with the ball in his hands where his competitive toughness, balance, elusiveness, and creativity in space lead to frequent missed and broken tackles.
The challenge ahead for Kuithe is overcoming a lack of size and functional strength to truly hold up as an in-line option. He is highly competitive with ideal temperament when blocking and playing through contact, but his 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame can be limiting. He can also find more consistency with his hands and ball skills to reduce the number of drops and win more in contested situations.
The key for Kuithe is versatility and athleticism, which Utah does well to tap into. I expect Kuithe to be among the most prolific tight ends in college football in 2022.
Where Dalton Kincaid Wins and Areas for Growth
Kincaid’s path to being on the NFL’s radar to play tight end is quite different from Kuithe’s. A high school basketball player, Kincaid played just one season of football and spent his first two college seasons at the University of San Diego before transferring to Utah.
Like Kuithe, Kincaid is an athletic tight end that is tasked with a diverse route tree to all levels of the field. That said, Kincaid offers considerably more size, as he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds.
Kincaid is sudden when getting in and out of route breaks which is impressive given football is still relatively new to him. The area that stands out the most to me with Kincaid is how exceptional he is at the catch point. He has strong and confident hands that literally catch everything. He features top-tier ball skills and dominates in contested situations. His basketball background shows up when he’s challenged at the catch point where his ability to stay leveraged and “go get it” shine. The game truly slows down for him at the catch point.
I find myself encouraged with where Kincaid is at in his development but acknowledge he can get stronger, become even more technical as a route-runner, and develop more instincts with the ball in his hands to produce more yards after the catch.
This duo blends together so well. Brant Kuithe is the versatile chess piece that brings athleticism, route-running, and yards-after-the-catch ability to the table. Dalton Kincaid offers more size and dominates at the catch point with reliable hands and outstanding ball skills. Utah is fortunate to have them both back in 2022 and it would come as no surprise to see the Utes boast the most productive tight end tandem in college football.
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