RETURN TO SPORTS
Arizona football: Position draws tighter scrutiny
No Gronks here, but threesome has some promise

Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star
Friday, April 5, 2013 12:00 am

The versatility of Terrence Miller makes him a strong candidate for the tight end spot. He caught 13 passes in three games last season. - KELLY PRESNELL / ARIZONA DAILY STAR 2012

What does Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez want his ideal tight end to look like?

It's not complicated.

"What's Gronk's size?" a smiling Rodriguez said referring to former Wildcats standout and current New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.

Every coach would love a Gronk on the roster, but that's not happening.

The Wildcats would just like to have a tight end who can play multiple positions, catch the ball cleanly and open some holes when needed.

"You want a guy who can play out wide, can play in tight and in the backfield," Rodriguez said. "We're going to recruit at that position because it allows us to do a lot of different formations and not have to substitute.

"That's been one of our keys."

The position wasn't a big part of the team's offense last season. A tight end didn't catch a single pass in 2012.

Rodriguez and first-year tight ends coach Charlie Ragle would like to change that this season. Luckily, they have a few intriguing athletes trying their hand at the position.

Terrence Miller, who has played mostly at outside receiver at Arizona, is working at tight end this spring, as is converted quarterback Josh Kern. The Wildcats also have Michael Cooper, who served as a backup at the position last season, on the roster.

Here's a closer look at all three.

Terrence Miller

Height/weight: 6 feet 4, 226 pounds

What he did last year: Miller battled multiple injuries in 2012 and will likely be granted a medical redshirt season for 2013. Before Miller got hurt, he caught 13 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns in three games.

What he brings: Miller seems like a natural fit for what Rodriguez wants out of the position. He can keep up with the hectic pace, provides versatility and has sure hands.

Quotable: "With Terrence, he gives us the ability to go fast and be able to go in and out of multiple formations and stay on the field. When you have that kind of athlete there, that's huge." - Ragle

Josh Kern

Height/weight: 6-5, 197

What he did last year: Kern redshirted and served as a scout team quarterback.

What he brings: The coaches moved him to tight end because they liked his potential and thought he fit the bill physically. Ragle said he's a natural at the position and makes it seem like he's played tight end for years. The coach now wants to see him put on more weight, but keep his speed.

Quotable: "I was pretty excited. All I've done my whole life is play quarterback and I've always wanted to play some wide receiver. So when they told me, I was pretty excited. I'm glad it's working out." - Kern

Michael Cooper

Height/weight: 6-5, 246

What he did last year: Cooper served as the backup to Drew Robinson and saw a lot of time on special teams. He got plenty of reps during practice, and understands the position as well as any of the candidates.

What he brings: Cooper's biggest strength is his experience and knowledge of the position. He also has near ideal tight end size and can block on top of catching the ball.

Quotable: "Certainly Cooper coming back with experience is a good thing. He's a guy who knows what we're doing and someone we can count on." - Ragle

Key dates

• April 13: Spring game at Kindall/Sancet Stadium, 1 p.m.

• Aug. 30: Opener vs. NAU at Arizona Stadium, time TBA

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk