Every Fresno State opponent will be paying obvious attention to Bear Pascoe in 2008. The future NFL Draft pick headlines the unit, and deserves the attention of opposing defenses. However, the rest of the unit is loaded with size, speed, tenacity, strength, and soft hands, along with deep potential in its incoming class.
The starter: Sr. Bear Pascoe (6-5, 270)
2007 season stats: 45 rec, 533 yds, 4 tds, 12.3 ypc
Post spring grade: B+
Pascoe is arguably the best all around tight end in the nation. He was second on the team in receiving, and opposing teams will mark him as one of our top receivers. His receiving statistics are nowhere as glitzy as other top tight ends in the nation are, but Pascoe does a lot more than just catching the ball. He encompasses a role that epitomizes the way Pat Hill likes to play at the line: nasty and physical.
Like most of the offensive personnel last year, injuries hobbled him. But when he was healthy, there’s no denying his impact on not only the Bulldogs’ ground attack, but their short yardage passing game. Pascoe will see most of his action at TE, but occasionally he does slide back into the H-back or FB position, and even on rare instances, lining up as a receiver.
When blocking for a run, he is impossible to shed for defender. At tight end, he presents one of the biggest problems an opposing defense can face. Essentially, Pascoe is a pass catching guard with very soft hands, who can deliver a punishing block off the line or from the backfield, while demanding double teams the moment he releases. He is as big as a few defensive tackles Fresno State will face this year, and it makes him virtually impossible to guard with single coverage if he goes downfield.
Pascoe does not possess 4.5 speed, but for a player his size, he moves remarkably well. He’s able to get behind opposing linebackers, whom are obviously going to be attuned to the Bulldogs running backs, and are not much faster than he is. Moreover, with his size, he is a complete mismatch against anyone, save a defensive tackle. His strength is what allows him to stay inside the tackles and hold blocks there; he’s unmovable off that line, and provide excellent pass protection.
If there is an area for him to improve on, it’s his speed. Otherwise, look for him to dominate the middle of the field this year, with teams forced to pay double-team attention to him. Pascoe has the opportunity to leave Fresno State as the best tight end it has ever seen.
The hybrid: Jr. Isaac Kinter (6-2, 240)
2007 season stats: 12 rec, 111 yds, 2 tds, 9.2 ypc
Post spring grade: A-
Kinter is a combination of a TE, H-back, and FB. He can line up anywhere, and in a pinch, can spell the FB to lead block for the running backs. At the TE position, he provides a speedier compliment to Bear Pascoe, with just as soft hands to boot.
He is at his most effective last year on sweeps and counters, where he can use his speed against lagging linebackers to get open and go up field after the catch. Kinter is quick enough to line up at the H-back position and run routes from it, or go wide and run fades from a wideout position. His combination of size, hands, and 4.6 speed make him an ideal mismatch against teams focused on stopping the Bulldogs’ run and utilize an undersized safety trying to shadow him.
He is also a tenacious blocker. In situations where Pascoe may pull back as an H-back and Kinter lines up at the FB position, those two provide a nearly unstoppable push for Bulldog ball carriers.
The receiver: RFr. Ryan Skidmore (6-6, 235)
A year ago, it seemed Skidmore’s contribution to the offense would be as extra wideout when the ‘Dogs went five-wide. However, he added 25 lbs to his thin frame, and improved his on the line blocking in the spring.
What separates him from the rest of the tight end group is his ability to cut and change direction. He can make a much sharper cut, and get to a faster step from that cut. Much of that can be attributed to his size; he is the ‘Dogs lightest tight end. He is the fastest of the group, and he has the opportunity to produce in the same manner that former Bulldog David Dunn did.
Skidmore is a natural pass-catching tight end. In high school, he caught 28 passes for 670 yards, averaging an amazing 24 ypc, including six catches for 202 yards against Bakersfield (Calif.) Golden Valley. He also returned six punts for 261 yards, displaying his speed and field vision.
Skidmore looked very promising in the spring game, displaying remarkable hands and even better speed, along with a good grasp in his route running. He should go into fall camp second only to Bear in terms of pass catching ability. He can easily put on another 30lbs and maintain his speed. Look for him to produce significantly this year when he gets in the lineup.
The backup: Sr. Drew Lubinksy (6-6, 260)
Lubinsky is utilized mostly as a run blocking and pass protect TE. He had only a single reception last year, a 3-yard touchdown catch against Georgia Tech in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. In addition, he sat out spring practice with an injury.
With the graduation of Jesus Tapia, look for Lubinsky to pick up more snaps to spell Pascoe and Kinter. He has shown he can get downfield and create space to get to passes. He still needs to hold onto the ball, as he has shown a tendency to drop passes in the past. However, he provides the offense with another huge body to block for runs, and a tall body to go up and grab balls out of the air as Pascoe can do against opposing secondaries.
The H-back: So. Vince Pascoe (6-1, 250)
Pascoe played last season a walk-on true freshman. He is a tenacious, reliable blocker, with soft hands to boot. He is a TE built like a FB. He can fill in for Reynard Camp with little effort, and at the same time, he has the motor and ability to spell his cousin, Bear, at TE.
He caught an effortless touchdown pass last year versus Oregon in just his third game in college. He looks to play more this year in an ever-expanding offense with multiple sets that will utilize players from any position.
Impact newcomer: David Gory (6-4, 250)
Gory comes to the Bulldogs program from San Ramon (Calif.) California High after missing his entire senior season due to a torn ACL. Nonetheless, he was highly sought after before his injury, despite playing just 10 games in his high school career.
California HS Photo
He would have had a laundry list of schools if he played his senior year. Gory brings to the position a combination of soft hands, great size, and speed. His best attribute may very well be his hands, as he caught 21 catches for 312 yards his only year of play as a junior. If he shows his potential from high school in fall camp, he could see playing time as a true. Nonetheless, he was recruited to help soften the blow after Pascoe leaves for the NFL.
Da Butler: Michael Butler (6-3, 235)
Butler is a Valley product out of Fresno (Calif.) Sunnyside. He comes into the program with the flexibility to play offense or defense. He may still find his way to the defensive side of the ball as a DE or OLB, considering the depth FS may need there.
Offensively, he had 21 receptions for 358 yards last year, including four catches for 101 yards against an Ebahn Feathers led Washington Union team. He bulked up over the course of the off-season, and he brings energy and a motor to the line.
2008 recruit: Kulitapa Taumoepeau (6-2, 220)
Tapa, as he is known, comes from Trinity High in Texas. He helped lead his team to the D1-5A state champion, the most competitive league in the Texas. He was named second team all-state, after catching 13 balls for 242 yards.
He shows great hands and excellent speed, along with the tenacious blocking that Coach Hill covets at the line. Hill compares him to former Bulldog Jeremy Johnson. His talent combination makes him a perfect candidate for drifting from tight end over to the H-back position.
©Copyright 2008, BarkBoard.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.