UVa looking to use tight ends more

Virginia tight end Jake McGee made a name for himself last year in the Cavaliers’ offense, but this fall, the entire position group will be featured more under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.

With two new coordinators in 2013, Virginia will have a different look, and part of it starts with Fairchild’s scheme.

“We want to be a team that’s going to utilize the tight end, that’s clear with Coach Fairchild’s offense,” said coach Mike London.

Fairchild runs a multiple-formation offense that aims to run the ball with authority, stretch the defense horizontally and vertically, and is not afraid to throw the ball deep and consistently, London said. In order to make better use of the tight ends, Virginia first has to find some dependable options.

McGee is the face of the group, as he had five touchdown receptions in 2012, which tied for No. 5 all-time at UVa by a tight end. He finished with 28 receptions last year for 374 yards. UVa has to replace three scholarship tight ends in Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman, who were seniors last year, and Jeremiah Mathis, who has been suspended indefinitely.

In order to help the depth at the position, the staff moved Zach Swanson from fullback to tight end.

"That's going to be critical for him to develop those tight end skills," London said.

Swanson is a true tight end, and London said the staff expects him be better at his natural position. Sophomore Rob Burns, a former defensive lineman, could also help the position, along with Mario Nixon.

“If you look at the production, you see one guy, passing game production, you see Jake,” London said. “You don’t see any on-the-line, been-in-the-game-a-lot tight ends. That’s going to be something we’ll pay close attention to and get developed.”