Fall Camp Preview: Loaded tight end room ready for bigger role
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Fall Camp Preview: Loaded tight end room ready for bigger role

As we approach the start of Fall Camp for Nebraska, we take an inside look at each position group for the Huskers.

Today we take a look at the tight ends, which enter 2021 as one of NU's deepest units on the roster.

Related: QB | RB | WR

Tight end Austin Allen will be looking to prove himself as a bonafide NFL prospect this season for Nebraska.
Tight end Austin Allen will be looking to prove himself as a bonafide NFL prospect this season for Nebraska. (Getty Images)

What we know right now: Allen, Vokolek are legitimate weapons

As Nebraska heads into 2021, it appears to have its best 1-2 combo at tight end in several years.

Juniors Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek are both proven commodities, and they are going to have a massive role in this offense, both as receivers and blockers.

The coaching staff feels Allen is a legitimate NFL prospect moving forward, and head coach Scott Frost said as much last week at Big Ten Media Days.

With the premium value placed on tight ends that NU supposedly will have this season with offensive coordinator Matt Lubick taking on more of the play calling, Vokolek could easily find himself in that category, too.

Last year, both Allen and Vokolek had moments where they showed what they could do for this offense.

Now they're joined by redshirt freshman Chris Hickman, who moved back to tight end after experimenting at wide receiver last year, and three impressive true freshmen.

Former five-star Thomas Fidone suffered a knee injury in the spring, but NU also added in-state talents James Carnie and AJ Rollins to the mix in the 2021 class.

That's only going to grow in 2021, as NU places more emphasis on featuring its tight ends in the passing game.

Key stats and numbers from 2020

2020 returning total snaps
Player Snaps

Austin Allen - JR

427

Travis Vokolek - JR

310

Chris Hickman - RFr

32

2020 key returning numbers
Player TGT REC-YDS TDs YPC YAC

Austin Allen

27

18-236

1

13.1

73

Travis Vokolek

17

9-91

0

10.1

46

Chris Hickman

1

1-0

0

0.0

0

Heralded freshman Thomas Fidone injured his knee in the spring, but there's hope he can return to the field this season.
Heralded freshman Thomas Fidone injured his knee in the spring, but there's hope he can return to the field this season. (Tyler Krecklow)

Biggest question: Will Fidone play this season?

Fidone came to Nebraska as the highest-ranked high school recruit since 2008, and there were high hopes in carving out a role for him this season.

Unfortunately, Fidone went down with a knee injury during spring ball and his timeline to return is unknown.

The best-case scenario is the Huskers play four games over the final six weeks of the season, and that option remains a realistic possibility.

Frost said last week that "there's definitely hope for Thomas" to return to the field and see game action by the end of the year.

Frost said Fidone's knee was healing well, and he's already back in the weight room working out with the rest of the team.

Hopefully, there's some opportunity to work him in and utilize the four-game redshirt rule in 2021 because Fidone is too much of a talent to have stuck on the sideline.

Projected Fall Camp TE Depth Chart 

1. Austin Allen, Jr.

-OR-

Travis Vokolek, Jr.

2. Chris Hickman, RFr.

3. James Carnie, Fr.

-OR-

AJ Rollins, Fr.

Injured: Thomas Fidone, Fr.