“Tight ends and backs have to be very sure handed, and their run after the catch has to be equally good, because you may throw the ball short to one of those guys, or intermediate and they still get you a first down.

-Mike Sherman, Former Green Bay Packers Head Coach on the prototypical West Coast Offense Tight End

If you ask any dyed-in-the wool Pittsburgher what was wrong with Pitt’s offense last year, they will immediately go to one of three places: Offensive Line, Fullback or Tight End. In at least two of those places they’d be justified. (Sorry, but I’m just not convinced Whipple’s west cost offense is going to make much use of a fullback – even if he can find a good one. We were spoiled by George Aston’s talent and equally spoiled by Matt Canada’s ability to make use of it, and then we were kind of spoiled by the fact that Shawn Watson didn’t screw it up that badly.) Anyway, as you can tell by the opening quotation of this article, today I’m going to talk to you abut the Tight End position (or lack thereof) at Pitt. I’m sure you are all very excited.

First, the Positives. The Tight End position was targeted 62 times last season. Sixty two! Why that’s just one less targets than the running backs got all season, and a full 13% of the targets all year. It’s 45 more targets than the Tight Ends got in all of 2018! In fact you’d have to go all the way back to 2016 to find a year where the Tight Ends received more targets than last season. (Scott Orndoff and Jaymar Parrish combined for 63).

Sadly though, our two Senior Grad Transfer Tight Ends caught only 61% off those targets – the lowest catch % for any position (Want to guess the highest? It was the running backs, who caught 75% off the passes thrown their way…I guess RBU is kind of alive and well after all, in a weird West-Coast sort of way). And yet despite their poor ball skills, Griffin-Stewart and Gragg were the 5th and 6th most targeted players on the team. Perhaps Whipple was trying to send recruits a message, and that message was “Look, we DO throw to the Tight End, no matter what”.

PlayerTargetsReceptionsCatch PercentDrops
Nakia Griffin-Stewart321959.4%7
Will Gragg301963.3%2
Somehow with only two drops, Will Gragg was nearly as bad a receiver as Nakia Griffin-Stewart, who totaled seven. Route running?

For comparison the average “Catch Percent” for the NCAA is 66.8% (min 20 targets). And the top eight receiving Tight Ends in the ACC all averaged north of 70% last season. Most averaged in the 80’s. A far cry from Pitt’s Tight End platoon.

So yes, we have a long way to go.

But we all knew that, and hope springs eternal.

This year we have a brand new Grad Transfer and He is from Florida where pass catching Tight Ends Grow on trees and second and third string players are good enough to make honorable mention all-ACC.

Enter Lucas Krull, who much like the hero in the 1983 Sci-Fi-meets-Robin-Hood fantasy film that shares his surname, has been transported to a strange and distant land, and against all odds will use his magical catching abilities to save the world from utter destruction (and eventually rule the galaxy).

Heck, he even kind of looks like the film’s protagonist.

Lucas Krull (@Lucas_Krull_) | Twitter
Transported to a far away land
Krull Glaive Prop by integra386 - Thingiverse
He practices with this thing in the offseason
There are more parallels to Pitt’s season in here than you’d like to admit

So yes…Lucas Krull. He sat behind all-world (and ironically-named) TE Kyle Pitts at Florida. Pitts merely collected 54 receptions on 80 targets, and five touchdown in his first full season, so you can see why Krull didn’t get much playing time. (For the record Pitts notched a 67.5% catch rate, and just four drops out of those 80 balls. Griffin Stewart would have had 15 drops. Maybe 16. I’m not exaggerating here.) The thing is that Pitts started and became all conference in his true Sophomore year. Krull, for all his purported talent, languished on the bench and then didn’t seize the job as a redshirt Junior. In his defense he was a two sport athlete and was likely distracted by playing baseball.

Anyway, the good news is that he was the second most targeted Tight End on Florida’s roster last season. The bad news is that he only had six targets. He caught three of them (but he didn’t drop any either). So yea, kind of not a lot to go on.

In a best-case scenario Krull is the Tight End version of ex-Florida linebacker Kylan Johnson, who came into Pitt last season, and usurped oft-ballyhooed but equally often out-of-position linebacker Chase Pine’s Money Linebacker position. Johnson garnered honorable mention All-ACC honors en-route to signing as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins after a solid 2019 season at Pitt.

If Krull plays at the same level that Johnson did, then you’d expect Krull to get about 60 or 70 balls tossed his way, and you’d expect him to catch about 2/3 of them for about 11 yards a pop, and maybe 4 or 5 touchdowns. That would be a nice little stat line of lets say 66 targets, 44 receptions, 450-ish yards and 4-5 TD. Heck that might even break him into the ACC third-team (Second team if he was on UNC). Buttt…just to temper your expectations, that would also be the most productive Pitt tight-end since Scott Orndoff (35 rec, 579 yards, 15 TD in 2016), and so the odds are not exactly in Krull’s favor.

But hey, the kool-aid’s on the table so feel free to pour yourself a glass.

A more realistic scenario is that Krull is basically Griffin-Stewart without the drops. So like 40 targets, 25 rec, 280 yards, 2-3 TD. That seems more in line with something you’d get out of a grad transfer, and its the low-end of respectable production for a college tight end.

My personal take on Krull after watching his interview last week and reading between the lines, is that he’s always been a high talent guy who hasn’t quite been motivated to put in the work. I can’t quantify that statement or back it up with insider information, but couple of quotes that he dropped just give me that feeling. (I’m paraphrasing here) “Well the quarantine was a blessing in disguise because I couldn’t go anywhere so all I did was work on football” If you ask me, the subtext is that he would have rather gone out and done something, instead of working on football. He also said something about being locked down in Pittsburgh and not being able to enjoy the summer. Now maybe I’m just being a crotchety old man here, and I hope I am, but it sounded a lot to me like Lucas would be a lot more interested in chasing skirts on the Southside then putting in extra work on the playbook. Anyway, he’s got every opportunity to prove me wrong. Plenty of time for skirt-chasing when the season’s over.

Even if he doesn’t prove me totally wrong, we better hope Krull doesn’t get hurt, because after him the Tight End room is pretty dang thin. It contains: A JUCO transfer (Danny Moraga). A redshirt Freshman who’s only played the position for one year (Ky Wright). A senior walk-on who last season “provided depth at linebacker” (Jake Zilinskas). Oh and a guy that was recruited as a defensive and that has flipped back and forth between positions twice (Kaymar Mimes). Yes Moraga could turn out to be serviceable (he was recruited by Fresno state but had issues and had to go JUCO for a year, so there is some talent there), but Wright and Mims are going to be raw no matter what, and Zilinskas is going to just be a tad bit overmatched if he’s out there for every play. Yes, I am sure that they are all good guys who work hard, but you can’t make up for four years of neglect and attrition with a couple JUCO’s, Grad Transfers, position switches and walk on’s. At least not with only one year to build it.

So yea, there you go folks. The Tight End position. It’s likely going to be as bad as a low-budget early ’80’s sci-fi movie. I guess we can hope that Krull is more action hero than fantasy.

PS – In what might turn out to be either the best (or worst) part of this post, here is the entire Krull feature film uncut. Looks like it was pirated the old-fashioned way, with a video camera in a theater. Enjoy & Hail to Pitt.

Michaelangelo Monteleone

56 thoughts on “Krull 1983 Fantasy

  1. Great report, MM! Krull could end up being the best pass catching TE we have seen at Pitt in sometime. We’ve had some pretty good blocking TEs but how about someone who could hit the seam and get big chunks of yardage? I’m trying to think of the most recent comparison.

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  2. In another possible bit of good news, Krull (like everyone else) will have the option of returning next year. It makes sense academically as he is in first year of grad school and it may make sense football-wise if this season becomes even more abbreviated than planned.

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  3. The good news #1 is he can’t be much worse than the group we trotted out the last two years. The good news #2 is Pitt looks like it may have more options in it’s passing even without Krull if Addison and Wayne progress as advertised. The good news #3 is he has a chance to move on to the next level if he finally plays up to what his perceived talent level is.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. and a WR in high school
        imagine wasting 6’7″ maybe #220 during hs not being on the line of scrimmage – maybe SOFT

        probably went the baseball route pitching because he was not into weightlifting
        imagine 2 more years in the weight room IF he has any desire to try to make money playing football

        what part of Pennsylvania is he from?

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  4. My intuition (worthless to everyone but me) tells me that barring injury Krull will be an excellent receiver. I have not the slightest idea how he will be as a blocker which as we all know is a critical factor in determining how good a tight end a player is (otherwise why not have a 6 ft 185 pound speedster playing the position).

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  5. I asked Coach Whip about Krull at the LOI event. Not surprisingly, Coach was enthusiastic about Krull. First thing he said was — he can really run…

    Just from seeing a bit of video, I expect LK to be a big upgrade and a big weapon — provided we find a left tackle who can pass block…

    Go Pitt

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    1. He’s got to be able to catch 70% of the balls thrown his way IMo and that means two things

      Hands – he probably has them
      Routes – the jury is out. Hopefully Pickett helps him and holds him accountable

      I agree the athleticism is probably there

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  6. not sure if we can deduce that Krull is soft because he played receiver in high school despite his big size. I am reminded of a guy who attended the same high school I did — Bruce Clark. He was 6’3 240 in HS but could run like the dickens. He played TE and MLB (also center on basketball team), and was recruited as an LB. He ended up as an All-American DE and 1st round pick.

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  7. He has the potential to pick up a lot of third downs as long as he is strong enough to get off the line.

    Being fast is a real asset since KP will not have all day to throw. The low percentage of catches and high percentage of drops stopped a lot of drives last year.

    Hopefully he will be willing to do the dirty work as well as making the splash plays.

    Also with linebackers and safeties forced to cover him it should also open other spaces on the field.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He did appear in all the games last year as a blocker. PFF says he played 95 run blocking snaps. His run blocking grade was pretty bad 41.5… but he got Better as the season went on. He graded out at 54 or above on each of his last six games. So I’d say there is reason to believe he’ll be an adequate run blocker, but nothing spectacular.

      Our boy griffin Stewart posted a 51.6 for the year (run blocking)

      Gragg a 51.9. So actually there might be a slight upgrade.

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  8. Thanks Maestro!

    Those 9 drops between Gragg and Griffin-Stewart felt like 25 drops.
    I got the sense that many were drive killers on 3rd down.

    “…and then we were kind of spoiled by the fact that Shawn Watson didn’t screw it up that badly.”
    That made me throw up in my mouth a bit. Never trust an OC who doesn’t believe the TE position is important in the passing game.

    Speaking of Matt Canada, I have read and heard that the Steelers pan to use the FB more often this season, in a bit of a possible move away from Big Ben’s preference for 5 wide formations. It is speculated that the acquisition of Derek Watt is a part of this. The thinking is that its the influence of Canada on offensive scheme. No word yet on whether Ben likes it yet, but with a surgically repaired elbow and his age, its time for a little bit more play action and I-formation runs on short yardage situaitions. Won’t surprise me at all if it works really well and Fichtner is either relegated back to QB coach or leaves if so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Protecting the old guy is always a viable strategy!

      Could be the canada influence, could just be the wisdom that comes with age. Look at what the saints did with Brees … brought in two good backs and went more run and short Rb pass heavy. Worked pretty well for them. Hope the stillers can do the same

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Seems to have measureables physically…don’t know anything about his FB IQ, committment or work ethic and at this level you need all of the above to get to the next level….have to look no further than Aaron Donald who did NOTwake up on third base and thought he hit a triple- he worked his a$$ off……

    Liked by 2 people

  10. you have to love this ….. just heard on ESPNU that Ohio St plans to continue with fall intramural sports which include soccer, field hockey and a few others

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    1. They are a business. They have to. They need the revenues to cover their massive overhead. Olympic sports are well attended at tOSU and donors checks won’t flow unless there’s a season. It’s a calculated business move. But Pitt doesn’t understand the first thing about that.

      Name me one company in America run by a compliance person. Name me one AD with a compliance background.

      I know those answers

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      1. Tex, how in the heck are intramural sports going to benefit OSU financially? Maybe they charge a participation fee (not sure) but even that would be just to recover the costs. It certainly is not a big moneymaker and likely a moneyloser.

        and once again, you just go completely out of your way to shade the Pitt athletic with totally distorted logic.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I thought it was non intramural. No reason why fall sports can’t be played if football is played. Who cares about intramural. My point is that pitt lives in the shade. I don’t need to throw it. Nothing grows well in the shade. You don’t need to be a farmer to know that now…do you???

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    1. Daniel Moraga – the JuCo transfer – is listed as 6-3 and 225. So he seems more like a pass catching TE than a blocker.

      Wright is listed as 6-2 and 260. Sounds like a blocker – but he’s supposed to be pretty athletic.

      And Duzz was talking up walk-on red-shirt senior Jake Zilinska, who is 6-2 and 240. Duzz said he would play, so he must be showing something on the blocking side, I’m guessing…
      Being a red-shirt senior walk-on tells you something about Jake…

      Go Pitt.

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      1. Haha you drinking the walk on kool aid major? Just to sober you up for all the hoopla that Jim Medure got he earned a 56.8 run blocking grade in 2018… Just below average

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        1. MM — I posted the walk-on TE “must be showing something” and you think I’m on a koolaid binge?

          Yikes!

          Go Pitt.

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          1. Ah sorry for getting in your face John. I’ve been in a feisty mood lately. I guess my point is that it’s all relative. Showing something more than a converted defensive lineman? Sheesh.

            Liked by 1 person

  11. I have my doubts. There are red flags with transfer kids like these that ooze talent and elite potential. He most likely isn’t mentally tough and has a poor work ethic.

    Now some of that can be corrected with proper coaching. He’s only worth it because pitt has no depth at the position. So low risk.

    But an indictment on the recruiting and usage of the position.

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  12. Krull threw on 2 trick plays last year at UFla. Might he be an option to be the ball carrier (“thrower”) on the Pittsburgh Special?? He has been spending a lot of time with KP.

    Mike – any Kool Aid left in that pitcher?

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    1. Pitts receiving did not have a huge drop off after Boyd left. Unlike when hall and Ollison left. Boyd is an elite receiver. I think just one poster thinks otherwise. That’s shade you throwing. I’m at least very transparent on who I call out. I don’t hide in the shadows.

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    2. Tyler B. was fun to watch.

      Only time I remember Paul Chryst appearing to be actually excited about a recruit was when Tyler Boyd signed with Pitt.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Most on the POV should know how I feel about grad transfers? Why not? I’m not now or have never been a college football coach. I suspect I never will and there is a reason for that. I’m not even qualified to complain about their decisions, although I do reserve my right to bitch about them. Piss and vinegar sounds like a good salad dressing for Texans.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good news is if we got an Antonio Brown type talent in Addison the Pitt O might actually score close to that 31 point per game average of several years back. The bad news is that their appears(rumor) to be injury to one of our staring CB’s that might end up being a major loss. A position IMO in which Pitt has little depth on their roster. With Narduzzi is talking up the freshman CB’s today you know there well be some truth to the rumor.

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  15. Pitt Cornerback Damarri Mathis to Miss Season Due to Injury

    PITTSBURGH—Pitt senior cornerback Damarri Mathis will miss the 2020 season due to a non-football related injury.

    Mathis (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland) played in all 13 games last season, starting 10 contests at corner. He totaled 23 tackles, two TFLs, 11 pass breakups and two interceptions on the year.

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  16. Mike – not to sound greedy, but I don’t suppose Burton could bring the other OT with him – depth, don’t you know!

    3 weeks + an OOC game should be plenty of time to get him (them) sync’d in with our line!!? 😉

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    1. Haha. Well let’s see …learn a new playbook … gel with line … get to know everyone and coach . Yea 3 weeks should be fine

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  17.   Sept. 12: Austin Peay
    

    · Sept. 19: Syracuse*

    · Sept. 26: Louisville*

    · Oct. 3: NC State*

    · Oct. 10: at Boston College*

    · Oct. 17: at Miami (Fla.)*

    · Oct. 24: Notre Dame*

    · Oct. 31: Open

    · Nov. 7: at Florida State*

    · Nov. 14: at Georgia Tech*

    · Nov. 21: Virginia Tech*

    · Nov. 28: at Clemson*

    · Dec. 5: Open

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  18. With Twyman opting out and now Mathis out for the year via injury and one could almost say the Pitt D will be average unless our DL just dominates each and every opponent this season.

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