The Oregon Ducks will be expected to compete for a Pac-12 title and possibly a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff if all goes according to plan next season. They have talent at every position led by Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota. But for the Ducks to strike some balance on offense and take their production to the next level, they need to find a bigger role for tight end Johnny Mundt in 2014.
As a freshman in 2013, Mundt stepped in and made an immediate impact for the Ducks, particularly after the unceremonious exit from the program for former starting tight end Colt Lyerla. He finished fourth on the team with 281 receiving yards on 16 catches with three touchdowns. His 17.56 yards per reception average ranked behind only Josh Huff (18.39) among Oregon receivers with at least 10 receptions.
And with Huff graduated along with fellow senior Daryle Hawkins, and the injury to Bralon Addison, Mundt will be Oregon’s leading returning receiver when the season kicks off this fall. The tight end position has never been a major factor in the Oregon passing attack, but the relative inexperience of the wide receiver corps, at least initially, could prompt Mariota to look to some of his more experienced options in the middle.
The Ducks have excellent depth at tight end heading into 2014 but Mundt could be the best of them this fall. In addition to his production last season, Mundt has added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason to be a more physical and effective blocker in the running game. Becoming a complete tight end will help Mundt stay on the field more often and should be rewarded with some extra opportunities in the passing game.
Mundt has the ability to be a real game-changer down the middle of the field for the Oregon passing attack. He showed a great ability to run after the catch in 2013, separating from defenders and breaking through tackles. With the added bulk and experience he’s acquired this offseason, Mundt could be in store for a breakout sophomore campaign in 2014.