PITTSBURGH, PA - Best Hubie Graham picture ever? Best Hubie Graham picture ever. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Pitt TE Hubie Graham and lineman Ryan Turnley were added to the watchlists of national awards for their respective positions.
Graham was among 33 named to the John Mackey Award list for the nation's top tight end, while Ryan Turnley was officially one of 55 named to the Rimington list, something that was leaked a while ago.
The watchlists are nice and all, but can either of them actually win it? I think Hubie Graham can.Ryan Turnley isn't going to win the Rimington. Turnley was a nice surprise and a bright spot along last year's line, but he's not the nation's best center. Not with Alabama's Barrett Jones moving to center after being an All-SEC player the previous two years at other positions along the line. But Hubie Graham could be uniquely positioned to be one of the favorites for the best tight end award.
It's no secret that Paul Chryst is a fan of the tight end position. At Wisconsin, he used a tight end set on nearly every play, often times utilizing up to three tight ends in the formation. The Badgers' Jacob Pedersen caught 30 passes for eight touchdowns last season, despite a ton of depth at the position on the roster.
Here, Chryst will have much, much less depth at tight end to rely on. The Todd Graham experiment chased tight end Brock Decicco away to (ironically enough) Wisconsin. Tight end has been a priority in recruiting for Chryst, but this season he won't have a ton to work with. Hubie Graham, the Mt. Lebanon graduate and University of Virginia transfer, will be the only tight end on the roster with honest-to-goodness tight end experience. Redshirt sophomore was a nice prospect out of high school and will be forced to contribute this season. Drew Carswell was a Todd Graham H-back, who seems to be more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Freshman JP Holtz looks like he'll be a player, but redshirting him this season would probably be a good idea if it can be helped.
So what does this mean for Graham? It means that he'll be the number one tight end for nearly every play he stand upright. And with this staff's love of the tight end position, he'll have his chance to make an impact whether that means throwing a block on a run or catching a pass. Will he win the Mackey? Who knows. But he'll have his chance to shine.