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Renewed Focus on the TE Position Shows in Recruiting

Dylan OQuinn committed from Western Michigan to come play tight end at Cincinnati.

Central Florida v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

If it feels like football commits are raining down from the sky for the Cincinnati Bearcats, its because they are. OK, not literally, but you get the idea. Last week, two new recruits committed to the Luke Fickell bandwagon, and now we’ve got another to add to the increasingly talented 2018 class. Tight end Dylan OQuinn made the announcement over Twitter yesterday.

What is particularly interesting about OQuinn’s decision is the fact that he committed to Western Michigan back in June before changing his mind this past weekend. OQuinn follows in the path of many other Ohio recruits, as the Millbury native will be playing football closer to home now. He is ranked the No. 81 recruit in the state by 247Sports and is considered a two-star recruit. He is the 20th hard commit for the Bearcats’ 2018 class and the second tight end, with three-star Josh Whyle, who is from Cincinnati itself, the other.

UC now has the No. 42 recruiting class in the country for 2018 and the No. 1 unit in the American Athletic Conference, according to 247Sports. He also has the potential to play defensive end, so his current standing as a tight end may end up meaning nothing. But until that time, there are more interesting details to dive into with OQuinn’s commitment.

When offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock was brought in from Notre Dame to serve on Fickell’s staff, there was some thought that the tight end position would be rejuvenated. The reasoning was simple. Denbrock coached a number of teams with the Fighting Irish that featured talented tight ends, namely Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Anthony Fasano.

Now, OQuinn isn’t necesarily going to become a big pass-catching threat or a tight end at all. He told Bearcat Journal that his role will probably involve more blocking than receiving, but there is no denying that the role of the tight end in the Cincinnati offense is changing. In Tommy Tuberville’s final season at the helm, tight ends accumulated 10 receptions for 133 yards. That was down from 16 and 141 the year before. In 2017, Tyler Cogswell and Josiah Deguara have been the primary contributors and have already combined to top both 2016 and 2015 totals, with 20 receptions and 156 yards.

At 6’5 and 255 pounds, OQuinn would still be a big target on the few chances he gets to run routes, but Whyle, who is the more highly regarded recruit, has the best chance of following in the footsteps of UC greats like Travis Kelce and Brent Celek. Even if neither live up to that legacy, its clear the Bearcats are investing more heavily in the position than the previous regime.