Over the next couple of weeks, CatamountSports.com will feature positional previews of the 2014 Catamount football team including the write-ups from the 2014 Western Carolina media guide, and Catamount Sports Network video features.
The Catamounts return three tight ends this fall that saw playing time a season ago, led by Southern Conference All-Freshman team honoree, Michael Helms, Jr. Helms caught two passes in three different games as a part of leading the position with 10 catches for 181 yards with one touchdown reception. He pulled in the second-longest reception by a Catamount in 2013 on a 65-yard pitch-and-catch as a part of a career-best 79 yards on the road at Samford.
Junior London Richardson has the most game experience among the trio, playing in 21 games over the past two seasons. He has primarily been used as a blocking back to aid in the Catamounts' rushing attack. During the preseason, though, Richardson spearheaded the use of WCU tight ends as running backs to add another wrinkle to the Catamount offense.
With Helms sidelined for the 2013 season finale, WCU got a sneak peek at the future of the position in 6-4, 245-lbs., Tyler Sexton. The Flat Rock, N.C., product caught four passes for a career-best 91 yards against Appalachian State. He again showed his ability to stretch the field in WCU's spring game, spurring a scoring drive with a 49-yard reception over the middle in what proved to be the game-winning drive for the Gold Squad.
Two redshirt freshmen in Roderick Poag (Marshville, N.C.) and Parker Swaringen (Concord, N.C.), as well as converted linebacker Lee Pattillo (Bryson City, N.C.) will add to the mix at tight end. Poag tallied a 19-yard reception to key a scoring drive during WCU's annual Spring Game. Like Richardson, both Pattillo and Poag saw numerous carries out of the backfield during fall camp.
TIGHT END NOTES:
Last season, two tight ends caught passes for the Catamounts as both Michael Helms, Jr., and Tyler Sexton recorded receptions ... Helms caught the lone touchdown pass by a tight end, coming in the home win over Elon;
Michael Helms, Jr., was named to the College Football Performance (CFPA) Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Tight Ends Award Watch List for 2014;
In 2013, the tight end position accounted for 14 of WCU's combined 211 receptions - 10 by Helms and four by Sexton - all coming in the regular season finale.
WCU Football 2014 Position-by-Position Preview:
Offensive Line - WATCH
Defensive Line - WATCH
Wide Receivers - WATCH
Linebackers - WATCH
Running Backs - WATCH
Defensive Backs - WATCH
Tight Ends - ABOVE
Special Teams - Aug. 20
Quarterbacks - Aug. 21