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Rutgers football position preview: Tight ends

Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile has two true freshmen additions this season. – Photo by rutgers.edu

Last season the Rutgers football team had two tight ends on scholarship, and only one was healthy. 

Sophomore tight end Matt Alaimo played in all 12 games and started 10. He caught six passes (five for first downs) while posting 60 yards. Additionally, he recorded two tackles on the punting unit against Michigan.

Alaimo went to St. Joseph Regional High School and was coached by now running backs coach Augie Hoffmann. Under Hoffmann, Alaimo hauled in 44 passes for 671 yards and 7 touchdowns his senior year.

The other scholarship student-athlete at the position was junior tight end Jonathan Lewis. Without any seniors in the tight end group, Lewis will be the most experienced of his position. A few days before last season began, Lewis injured his Achilles, sidelining him for the year.

As a sophomore, Lewis played in four games, three as a tight end and one as a quarterback. His freshman year, Lewis played seven games at quarterback, ending the season with 14 completions for 167 passing yards and 4 touchdown passes, as well as 111 yards on the ground and 2 rushing touchdowns.

Lewis isn’t the only tight end who has been under center. After not receiving any Division I offers out of high school, sophomore tight end Cooper Heisey took a post grad season at Wyoming Seminary Prep where he threw for 15 touchdowns and committed to the Scarlet Knights as a quarterback. In high school, he threw for 5,402 yards and 46 touchdowns.

In 2019, Heisey’s game time came from blocking on field goal attempts after a redshirt year in 2018. Similarly, sophomore tight end Jonathan Pimentel played in 10 games last season on special teams and redshirted the year prior. In high school, most of Pimentel’s highlights came from his time as a linebacker. 

Fellow sophomore tight end Brandon Myers saw more time on offense last year than Heisey and Pimentel. He earned starts in the season opener against UMass as well as against Indiana. He saw action at fullback and tight end.

Unlike some at the position group, Myers served primarily as a tight end in high school, securing 33 catches for 529 yards to go with 10 touchdowns. 

Standing at 6 feet 1 inch and weighing 230 pounds, Myers is shorter than most of the players at tight end, but has the advantage of having played tight end in high school. 

Rutgers had a net gain of tight ends coming into this year’s eight game campaign. The Knights lost former tight end Kyle Penniston to graduation and recruited two prospects. As previously mentioned, some tight ends on the roster converted from another position. True freshman tight end Victor Konopka is going through an even bigger transition, as he came from another sport.

Konopka graduated from Don Bosco Prep committed to playing basketball at Army, but after a post grad semester at Blair Academy, he is now a tight end for Rutgers. Konopka lined up as a defensive end as well during his stint with the Buccaneers.

After one year on the gridiron, Konopka earned the title of the No. 35 football recruit in New Jersey. At 245 pounds, he is in the same weight class as many of the Knights’ tight ends, but he is taller than them with his 6-foot-7-inch frame. 

The second recruit was also a tight end and defensive end in high school. True freshman tight end Shawn Collins was ranked as the No. 36 football recruit in the state. The 6-foot-5-inch, three-star recruit also played basketball and ran track in high school. He was used primarily as a blocker while on offense but posted 4 touchdowns.

Returning to his original job from last season, tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile is entering his third season on the Banks, working with a staff that is different than his previous two seasons.


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