Welcome to another installment in our Countdown to Kickoff! 80 days from now, the Oklahoma Sooners will return to Owen Field to begin the 2018 season, and one of those players in particular figures to have a much bigger role this time around. Sophomore tight end Grant Calcaterra played sparingly in his freshman debut, but after the departure of Mark Andrews, the spotlight on Calc’ will be brighter than ever before.
The tight end position is one that an increasing number of programs across the college football landscape are losing touch with, but Oklahoma has seen firsthand the value of having a guy like Calcaterra on the field. He’s too big for most defensive backs to handle, and too quick for most linebackers to cover. At 6’4” and 224 pounds, Calcaterra isn’t the largest tight end you’ll ever see, but he makes up for that with soft hands and savviness as a route runner.
Like several other Sooners, Calcaterra is a Cali kid who has found a home in Norman. The Rancho Santa Margarita native is also a triplet, and it shows in his competitiveness. Last season, while Calcaterra didn’t receive any starts, he played in all 14 contests. Even with his limited opportunities behind the Mackey Award winning Mark Andrews, Calcaterra still accumulated 162 yards on 10 receptions, including three touchdowns. After a year in Lincoln Riley’s offense, and the starting spot now his to lose, expect a significant bump in every statistical category this fall.
With all the weapons on the outside and in the backfield of Oklahoma’s offense, defenses won’t be able to afford devoting a great amount of attention to any one player. Grant Calcaterra could be a guy who benefits from that plethora of surrounding talent the most this season. To see for yourself, keep your eyes on the end zone. Chances are you’ll find “Calcutta” there.
Now lets’ cover the days we’ve missed since our last countdown post:
81 days! – Mark Andrews
One of the best tight ends to ever come through Norman just wrapped up his career at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Even with a long list of greats at the position, Andrews was the first tight end in program history to win the John Mackey Award for best tight end in the nation. In just three seasons, Andrews compiled a whopping 1,765 yards on 112 catches, including 22 touchdowns. Andrews was also named a Unanimous First Team All-American in 2017. With the 86th overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Andrews was selected by the Baltimore Ravens.
82 days! – James Hanna
On April 20th of this year, tight end James Hanna called it a career, retiring from the NFL after six seasons in Dallas. Back in his college days, with 52 catches for 720 yards, Hanna’s career may not have been as statistically prolific as Mark Andrews’, but he was a reliable target (with the exception of that big drop in College Station) and a big-play threat. He definitely cemented himself in Bedlam lore with this 76-yard touchdown to break the backs of all the Cowboys in Stillwater. Take a minute to relive that moment in all its glory. Boomer!