By now, the news of Geneo Grissom switching from defensive end to tight end is, well, old news. It was something that had been whispered about on OU message boards, but until the recent release of the roster there had been no real confirmation of the move.
Now that we (think?) know where Grissom will play this season, it opens up the opportunity to debate whether or not it was a move that actually makes sense. And that's exactly what Matt and I recently.
Matt: Something that you quickly pointed out when the numbers for new players and number changes were released from the university was that former defensive end Geno Grissom was now listed as a tight end. Honestly its not all that surprising that a player was switched to that position because depth was an issue there. However, what was surprising to me was that Grissom was the selection because he's coming from a position that was also fairly thin.
Regardless the switch has been made and I feel there are two different schools of thought here. First, the coaches are so impressed with Grissom's athleticism and feel secure enough about David King, RJ Washington and Chaz Nelson that they can spare Grissom on the other side of the ball. Second, JUCO transfer Brannon Green isn't physical enough as a blocking tight end. My understanding is that Grissom is to be used primarily as a blocking tight end which immediately prompts the question about Green who was brought to Norman specifically for that purpose.
Jordan: Well, I don't know that I'd make that leap about Green. I have not seen whatever it was you did about Grissom being used primarily as a blocker. Not saying you're wrong mind you, I just haven't seen that anywhere. It would surprise me somewhat in that it's almost always the aspect of every tight end's game that needs work coming into college (whether from JUCO or high school), let alone someone who is (essentially) brand new to the position. I don't doubt Grissom's physical ability or athleticism to do it, but I'd find it pretty hard to believe he's surpassed both Green and Taylor McNamara in doing so.
If this move to tight end is a permanent one, using him "primarily as a blocking tight end" seems, quite frankly, like one of the dumbest things I can think of them doing with Grissom. If it is his versatility and athleticism that lead to the switch, why not take advantage of that by creating mismatches in the passing game? He's listed on the roster at 6'4" 247 pounds, you're telling me that's not an immediate mismatch for most linebackers in the Big 12? Let alone every corner and/or safety!
I wouldn't ever be arrogant to claim to know more than Bob Stoops or anyone on his staff, but to move a guy who just about everyone believed had a very high ceiling at defensive end to tight end just to block seems incredibly stupid. And I think that was my biggest issue with this. Admittedly, the guy has had trouble staying healthy and it's a leap of faith on my part to give him the benefit of the doubt with respect to his ability. But this is a team desperate for difference makers off the edge in the pass rush and he was one of a very small handful of players on this team that could have been one of those guys. Now, again assuming this is a permanent move (which we do not know for sure if that's the case), that is no longer an option.
Plus, he's already used his redshirt year so they can't give him this year to "learn" the position. Which means if he struggles with the transition and doesn't or rarely sees the field this season, then this year immediately becomes a complete waste in my opinion. So then next year, you're looking at a guy who have just two years of eligibility remaining and fighting with, potentially, as many as five or six other guys for playing time.
I put this in a comment on another post and you alluded to the same thing as well. This move could just as easily be taken as a sign of confidence in what Bobby Jack Wright believes he has at the position that felt comfortable losing Grissom to the offense. For the sake of this coming season and of course the defensive end position, I'm quite confident Sooner Nation is hoping for that scenario as opposed to the flip side of that coin (Hey, see what I did there!).
Matt: Good plug there my man!
I would agree that if he sees little of no playing time then it is a wasted year. I also agree that OU needs a play-maker on the edge. Its just the offensive edge that I'm talking about. A big and physical tight end who can take on DE's and level linebackers in order to free a running back into space on the edge has been missing for a while as well. If Grissom can do that then he's an immediate success and hero regardless of how many passes he catches.
Jordan: I certainly wouldn't disagree with what you are saying, but there is one obvious yet vitally important caveat that you simply cannot ignore. And it's that "IF" you had to throw in there. Yes, "if" he can do those things then clearly it will prove to have been the correct decision. My issue with it is how likely is that "if" to actually occur?
You (or more accurately, they) are taking a guy who for the last two years has watched film, taken practice reps, taken game reps exclusively at defensive end. Now, in the span of six months (approx.) you're going to ask him to flip sides of the ball, to a position he hasn't played since high school (and even then only played it part time), and expect him to succeed?
Look, I'm not saying it can't happen. I'm simply saying given the reality of the situation as we know it, even the most optimistic person on this planet would have to have at least a seed of doubt hiding back there in the shadows of the ol' brain bucket. Admittedly, I'm not now nor have I ever been a football coach but I'd like to think I've watched enough football to know the art of blocking isn't quite as simple as lining a guy up across from another and saying "Block him."
Maybe I'll be proven wrong, I just believe there is going to be a learning curve for Grissom. And potentially a pretty steep one.
Matt: You're right in that blocking isn't simplistic but it isn't rocket science. A big and physical guy can pick it up pretty quickly. Sometimes it is as simple as getting the guy in front of you. Others its the guy who tries to cross you (referred to as the guy crossing your face) and yet on other occasions there's assignments. Learning passing routes, chipping off a defensive end or linebacker and then releasing and getting general timing down is much more complicated than blocking assignments.
Yes, there is a learning curve and we won't know anything for sure until this fall but there's a reason that the coaches have moved him and they don't typically make a move this late into a guy's career unless he's showing more than just potential. I guess it'll be fun to watch this play out.