I suppose we should get back to previewing the team as though the season is going to happen.
Mysteriously, Vanderbilt’s production at the tight end position dropped in 2019 as part of a team-wide offensive meltdown. After catching 50 passes for 774 yards and 7 touchdowns as a junior, Jared Pinkney (somewhat surprisingly) returned, and caught just 20 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns — numbers much more in line with his freshman and sophomore seasons than his breakout junior year. It was a surprising development for an offense that very much intended to feature the tight end.
Pinkney is gone now, and as a result this is an extremely young and unproven group. The remaining tight ends have combined to catch seven passes at Vanderbilt. If new offensive coordinator Todd Fitch wants to feature the tight end less than Andy Ludwig did, well, he’s got a built-in excuse.
The Presumptive Starter
Ben Bresnahan, redshirt sophomore: The entirety of Vanderbilt’s returning production at tight end comes from Bresnahan, who started two games last season as a redshirt freshman. The 6’4”, 235-pound Bresnahan caught 7 passes for 105 yards last season, which included two receptions apiece against LSU, Ole Miss, and Kentucky. This is the closest thing that Vanderbilt has to a “proven” player at tight end, and as such he’s probably the favorite to start.
Gavin Schoenwald, redshirt sophomore: The former high school quarterback at nearby Brentwood Academy appeared in 11 games as a reserve and on special teams last season and didn’t catch a pass. He has pretty good size at 6’4” and 238 pounds.
Joel DeCoursey, redshirt freshman: Another big body at 6’4” and 235 pounds, DeCoursey redshirted last season after a solid senior year at Zionsville Community High School in Indiana and should be ready to play this year.
Justin Ball, redshirt freshman: There was talk last year that Ball might ultimately end up at offensive tackle once he had a couple of years in the weight room; still listed at 6’6” and 230 pounds, and as a tight end on the roster, that’s obviously not happening last year. He played high school ball at Gonzaga College Prep in Washington, D.C., the same school as incoming basketball recruit Myles Stute.
Diego LaMonica, freshman: The lone tight end in the 2020 recruiting class is probably headed for a redshirt year, but if he’s ready to play the depth chart is wide open.