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Top 60 Countdown: No. 19, TE Dedrick Epps

As we creep ahead in our countdown of the Top 60 players at The U, we take a look at No. 19 on our list: Tight end Dedrick Epps. The 6-4, 253-pound senior is coming back from a torn ACL and won't be ready for the start of the season. But the Canes are hopeful he'll be back at some point. UM certainly needs Epps because of their youth and inexperience at the position. How much will Epps be able to contribute? We'll find out soon.

Dedrick Epps is hoping to return by September from his torn ACL. How much will he be able to help the Canes at a major position of need remains to be seen. > What we heard about him on Signing Day '06: As a senior at Huguenot High in Richmond (Va), Epps caught 38 passes for more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns. He picked the Canes over the hometown Hokies, University of Florida and Tennessee. Rivals.com and Scout.com both rated him the nation's 12th best tight end. He was one of 10 players rated by Rivals.com in UM's 2006 class as a 4-star recruit.

> What he's done as a Cane: After catching just eight passes for 83 yards (and one very big touchdown in the 2007 win at FSU) in his first two years at UM, Epps became the primary tight end in UM's offense last season thanks to the transfer of Dajleon Farr to Memphis. Last season, Epps caught 22 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 69-yarder (UM's longest play from scrimmage) against N.C. State. He finished with 101 yards in the game to become the first UM tight end to catch finish with more than 100 yards receiving since Greg Olsen had 132 yards on eight catches against FSU in 2005. Epps was all ready to take the next step then suffered a torn ACL in his left knee when the Canes were preparing for the Emerald Bowl. He missed the spring and hopes to be back in September.

> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: No player is tougher to forecast on this team than Epps. There is no question he's the best tight end on this team. He's the best route runner, the best blocker, the only real weapon who will be effective at the tight end position in Mark Whipple's offense (the other guys are either too young or just have never given us reason to believe they'll improve). Randy Shannon has said Epps has been ahead of schedule in his rehab and is hopeful he will be back in September. But even in the best case scenario, its going to take him time to get his body physically ready for action. Then, he has to actually execute plays in the offense. At best, Epps will be back in the lineup by October (the middle of the season). When he comes back, he'll provide a big lift to this new offense, which showed us it relies a lot on underneath targets to make plays. Epps can do that if he's healthy. But if he doesn't come back in time or if he doesn't come back the same, it could be a huge blow to this offense. That being said, it will be interesting to see who else steps up at the position. Jimmy Graham makes the move over from basketball and is athletic and big, but hasn't played football since he was in ninth grade. Will any of the incoming recruits be able to help? Probably not. Either way, this position enters the fall as the clear cut biggest question on the team.

Comments

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1st!

1st as of now

I never understood what it means to evaluate a receiver in terms of his ability as a 'route runner'. If a receiver is a poor route runner, does that mean that he forgets where to go once the play starts? Or runs left when he should run right?

I suppose good route running has to do with reading the coverage and making route adjustments on the fly. That type of ability, I would hope, could be developed through coaching, film study, and repetitions.

A receiver who is unable to improve in this are is probably deficient mentally rather than physically. So I'll conclude that characterizing a receiver a poor route runner is code for saying he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

It doesn't matter when he returns, we'll already be 1-4 and hoping to make it to the smurfbowl.

David,

Running good routes means a lot of things. It means you don't give away where you are going, it means you run the right distance, turn/cut at the right time, and create seperatiom from the man guarding you. Timing is everything in football.

PONCE PLEASE!!! YOU MEAN 4-1!!! Come on dude! CANES to 9-3 this year! With a bowl win we get to 10 wins!!

David,

Being a good route runner isn't a mental defect. It is based on physical ability, if a person is a bad route runner it means that they come out of there breaks to high and gives away the route, or they could round off their routes. Say someone is running a 15 yard square in but they round it off to 18 yards thats a bad route, or if you are running a curl and it is 12 back to 10 and you are not athletic enough to go from full speed to coming back in 1-2 yards or 3 steps so in stead of 12 to 10 you take it 14 to 12 thats a bad route, all of which throw off timing and cause int's. So a lot of the time when QB's throw picks its not their faults the WR ran a bad rount. Example of this in the NFL is Roy Williams.

Poor route running can be attributed to lots of things, examples are not being able to cut sharply or inability to run routes at the correct speed variations.

Remember the way Andre Johnson who would use his speed to beat coverage and slow to a glide to provide a target on a deep ball. Compare him to Benjamin who runs max speed and forces the QB to lead him with a perfect throw.

Look at Aldarius Johnson who glides through routes slow enough to get dbs on his back and accelerates away with a quick change of direction. Compare him to Sam Shields who runs shallow out routes usually has to make acrobatic catches that force him out of bounds.

What about Ray Ray at TE?

It's a shame about Epps, but we just have to plug in the next guy and hope he can do the job. Injuries happen and we have to deal.

The bottom line is this: There's not much experience behind Epps(torn ACL). Here's the stat line between Adderley, Graham and Gordon: four catches for 32 yards.

Your depth chart resembles the finest aged Swiss.

In Randy We Trust,

Here's the "stat line" (how lame) of TEs from the U that made it big in the NFL: B. Franks, K. Winslow, J. Shocky, G. Olson. The Gaytors: Not so much.

Whipple will probably find a way to make Graham all-ACC and when Epps comes back make him an All-American.

Go back to your loser blog, or are you just a "closet" Cane fan.

Over/under on how many starts Beanpole gets.

8

All - thanks much for the education on route running.

It does seem that the route running deficiencies that you describe should be curable through proper coaching. The receivers you mention -- Shields, Benjamin, Johnson -- are certainly loaded with raw physical ability. It should be the coach's job to harness the raw skills and work in the subtleties that you describe.

Thanks again.

The U

MANNY..."That being said, it will be interesting to see who else steps up at the position. Jimmy Graham makes the move over from basketball and is athletic and big, but hasn't played football since he was in ninth grade. Will any of the incoming recruits be able to help? Probably not. Either way, this position enters the fall as the clear cut biggest question on the team."

Will any of the incoming recruits be able to help?.... Probably not!!!.....

Manny... I'm surprised... You say it like nobody has ever started out as a true freshmen and has ever made a splash at the U! If the current guys can't cut it... move over and just block because we have some very good recruits coming in that are already proven TE's. Yes...it will take time, yes...they'll have to crunch the playbooks, yes... they'll need to get the timing down, YES,YES,YES... But give me a "Real Player" who can learn on the run... He'll be ready. As for key blocking assignments for other plays... bring in the old guys to secure the fence in the beginning. Then when everyone is looking for the run, Pop it up the middle and watch Adderley or Johnson or Gordon Light it up.

Incoming... Plein and Sanders at 6-4, 235, Maybe Dye and throw in RayRay at 6-4, 215 Just for the hell of it!

JMO... We'll be OK at TE for the next 3/4 years!

Over/Under
What round does T-Bag get drafted in- 4th
How many years before he gets the boot out of the league- 3
How many lbs. will balloon head lose once he cant use the PED- 25

DAvi- don't let these fools convince youotherwise- Bad route runningis 100% mental. If you arent he smartest footballer, you wont "get" that you were suppose to run 10 and curl. Instead, you run 12 and curl and itthrows everyone's timing off!

Case in point: Sam Shields, Lance Leggett, RyanMoore. All had exceptional athleticability. None of them smart. All busts at WR.

Conversely, look at the likes of Wayne Chrebet, that white boy from Denver, and even Jerry Rice ( 4-7 forty). None of them burners, definitely not 4-2 forty like Shields, but all very pure and smart runners of patterns, and in finding the open hole.

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