BOCA RATON, Fla. - The tight end unit entered the 2015 preseason camp with a senior returning from injury, a junior college transfer, two sophomores, and an incoming freshman. They had lost, to graduation, the unit's most productive tight end and needed the tight end puzzle completed prior to the season opener.
By the end of the 2015 preseason camp, the puzzle was indeed complete but the final piece, which proved to be important, came from another puzzle box - the quarterback unit.
Midway through camp, the coaching staff spoke to Tyler Cameron, a graduate student transfer who had played three collegiate seasons and his entire high school career under center. They asked if he would be willing to practice at tight end.
He agreed and by week's end the picture was complete.
Cameron (Jupiter, Fla.) contributed in every game and drew six starts. He led the tight ends with 21 receptions which was fifth on the squad in total receptions. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch and as the year progressed he became more and more physical.
Someone used to the physicality of the position and who also saw action in every game was Dustin Bowens (Palm Coast, Fla.). Bowens' size and strength was vital in the squad's offense as well as on special teams.
"Tyler (Cameron) and Dustin (Bowens) are the two that will be in there come game time. Tyler again showed that he is a reliable pass catcher," said Head Coach Charlie Partridge after the spring season. He got much stronger in the off season and has been much more physical at the point of attack and you flip it to Dustin. Dustin continued his path down being a physical guy but, now he catches the ball better. So, we have two guys that we feel good about."
The duo will enter the season knowing that they have a greater opportunity to contribute and to make a difference after the unit lost Nate Terry (Homestead, Fla.). Terry used the spring of 2016 to make a move to wide receiver and he flourished. The junior saw action as a tight end in every 2015 game, with a unit-leading seven starts. He ended his second collegiate campaign just behind Cameron with 16 catches, but accounted for a fourth of the team's touchdown receptions.
Despite losing Terry, the tight ends have the size, experience and ability to contribute in multiple ways. With Terry's move to receiver, the coaching staff will have the option to have three physical receivers in the game that will provide a different look than if they had opted to used have used them as a three-tight end set and could do so with speed as well as size.
Jacob Wilson (Chipley, Fla.) can add to that size mix and will return as a redshirt sophomore. Newcomers will be incoming freshmen Harrison Bryant from Gray, Ga. and Westminster Christian's John Raine.
Bryant earned all-county, all-region, and all-state honors as a 6-5, 235 pound senior where he tallied 38 receptions for 608 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a physical player that saw time as both an offensive and defensive lineman during his prep career. Raine earned all-county honors as well and used his athletic ability to earn the school's Offensive MVP honors for both football and basketball. He tallied 24 receptions for 223 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.