The Owls wrapped up another day of training camp Tuesday as we inch closer to the start of the season against the University of Florida on Sept. 4.  After conducting practice in the Oxley Center Monday afternoon, the Owls went back to normal in the morning and moved back to the Schmidt complex right next to the stadium. Today, the focus was on the tight ends where FAU Football looks to replicate the production of school greats Harrison Bryant (now with the Cleaveland Browns) and John Raine. 

The media got to speak with tight ends coach Jon Bills and redshirt junior Austin Evans today. Both expressed their excitement for not only the upcoming season but what the tight end group can do in 2021.  “I think we’re progressing nicely,” Bills said. “It’s been competitive on all sides of the ball. That’s something coach Taggart talks about after practice consistently. If the offense gets on a hot streak, the defense is able to battle back, but if the defense is holding us back a little bit, we’re making a play and snapping out of it.”

When asked if Bills sees one person popping off or the whole room contributing in their own way, he didn’t hesitate to credit every FAU tight end.  “Everyone has their individual role, which is awesome,” Bills said. “We want to play a lot of guys at both The tight end position and all across the team. They all have what they’re good at, and what they’re not good at, they’ve been improving to become an all-around player.”

Bills does, in fact, mention that while he has seen some successful improvement throughout camp, he did express that there is still some work to be done within the tight ends. “It’s the mental errors, which they’ve been doing a much better job in the past few days,” Bills said. “They’re starting to come alive in the playmaking department. So just want to see that continued trend in the upward direction, especially when it comes time to scrimmage and in a game-like scenario.”

Austin Evans is looking for his first true impact to the roster as a tight end as his only appearances for the team were in two games in December last season. As Evans is looking to make a difference for the Owls, he talks about camp and his expectations. “Okay, so camp has been going great from my perspective,” Evans said. “We’ve really had the opportunity to show the coaches how much we’ve progressed in the offseason, how much stronger we’ve got, how much faster we’ve got and working on our technique, as well as installing our plays and working on cutting down on our missed assignments.”

Evans really emphasized the importance of the tight ends limiting the amount of MAs (missing assignments) and penalties and said that’s a huge thing they want to work on going into Saturday’s scrimmage. “Like I mentioned, the MAs [missing assignments], we’re really working on that because tight ends have a big role on the team, almost like a second quarterback,” Evans said. “So we really want to cut down on that as well as know every assignment from every position for every play to help our teammates and make the right calls.”

As mentioned before, FAU Football has had insurmountable success in the tight ends department, especially from the aforementioned Harrison Bryant where in his last season in 2019, he caught 65 passes for 1004 yards and seven touchdowns. He won the John Mackey Award that season which celebrates the best tight end in the nation. 

Evans understands the pressure of what the tight end position means to the school, and with that, he holds it at a high bar. “We’re held to a very high standard, especially in the offense that we run,” Evans said. “So we hold ourselves to a high standard. We, every day, push each other to be better, so we are on each other’s butt about little things because we want to execute our plays and be better.”

Redshirt freshman Rahmod Smith, brother to former FAU linebacker Rashad Smith (now with the Chicago Bears), missed all of last season, but still was given immense praise by Bills and expects Smith to be an impact player sooner rather than later. “Rahmod [Smith] is awesome,” Bills said. “He’s getting a little bit better, a little bit healthier. He’s looking cleaner and cleaner, getting involved more in the offense. And when he’s not involved, he’s my assistant coach. He’s gonna be a great player, and if he wants to be a coach one day, I just had that conversation with him two days ago, he’d be a heck of a coach too.”

FAU Football currently has seven tight ends listed on the roster, and as coach Bills and Evans said, expect an all-around group effort when it comes to their performance in the upcoming season. 

Training camp and practice will continue throughout the week until Saturday’s scrimmage, which won’t be open to the media.

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Zachary Weinberger
I'm an avid sports watcher of the big three teams based in Miami, Florida: Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins. Also, love professional wrestling! At Lemon City Live, I'm a beat writer for the FAU Football team.

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