A Look at the 2007 SFA Tight Ends & H-Backs
Aug. 20, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - Throughout the course of breaking down the 2007 SFA Lumberjack football team, position-by-position, we have highlighted the wealth of returning talent at every position. Although the 'Jacks are blessed this season with a majority of their starters returning from last year, there are a couple of positions where SFA is very young. The 'Jacks are going to be very young in the secondary and at tight end this season.
Over the course of the past two years, the Lumberjacks have had to replace their starters at tight end. This past year offensive coordinator Gerald Broussard has had to replace all three tight ends from last year due to attrition.
"It has been challenging, but that is part of what I enjoy about coaching," said Broussard. "We've brought in a lot of new people, and have had to move some other guys around, but these guys are playing the position for a reason. They are all great athletes, and that makes the job of teaching them that much easier."
The Lumberjacks brought in a couple of transfers during the spring from the NCAA Division I FBS level (formerly I-A) who plan to figure heavily in the mix. Andy Anderson is a 6-3, 245-pound sophomore who came to SFA from Florida International, while Joe Savoie (6-2, 240) comes to Nacogdoches after spending his freshman season on the defensive side of the ball at Army.
"We brought in two guys, Andy Anderson and Joe Savoie, who are very talented," said Broussard. "Andy had to learn our terminology, but he had already played the position at Florida International. Joe played on the defensive side at Army, so it was new to him, but we've utilized him at tight end and H-back."
The most experienced one of the bunch, Anderson looks to have the early nod at the starting tight end spot. Savoie is athletic enough to see time at both tight end and H-back, but will probably see a good majority of his time at the H.
Backing up Anderson will be a couple of defections from the defensive side of the ball in 6-3 sophomore Broderick Gaffney and 6-3 redshirt freshman Rainey Sternes. After spending the first season on the defensive line, both Gaffney and Sternes have made the transition to tight end, and both bring a ton of athletic ability to the position.
"Right now it's a toss-up between Rainey Sternes and Broderick Gaffney for the back-up spot," said Broussard. "They sre both defensive ends that we've moved over. They give us big, rangy targets that can get out and run. Broderick probably has a slight edge over Rainey just due to the fact that he's been working at the position a bit longer.
"Moving Rainey over has really helped the rest of the guys at the position. He has brought a physical mentality to the group by just going out every day and getting after it. I expect both Rainey and Broderick to play for us this year."
Another former defensive player who was switched from defense to fullback, and now to H-back, is 6-2, 220-pound Tyler junior Aaron Bragg. After spending his rookie season working with the 'Jacks' linebackers, Bragg was moved to fullback last season. He enters the 2007 season fighting Savoie for playing time at the H.
"I'll be looking at some more film, but the starting spot is very close between Savoie and Aaron Bragg," said Broussard. "Aaron is a very athletic individual who can run and catch the pass, but there are some inconsistencies in his game. Having said that, he is the type of guy that you better plan for because he can really hurt you."
Throw in the athletic abilities of All-SLC fullbacks Michael Motte and Leonard Lynce and Broussard has a bevy of talent that he can rotate into the mix. There is also another positive for Broussard and company. Although he might be coaching one of the most inexperienced groups in the Lumberjack locker room this season, by this time next year Broussard will have one of the more veteran groups on the field.
"As challenging as this year has been, the good news is that we return all but one of these athletes next year," said Broussard. "The following year, they will all be back as well, so it will be fun again next year. When you're dealing with athletic guys, it makes everything a great deal easier."