Depending on who you listen to, Ethan Wolf is a massive hole on Tennessee’s depth chart.
The senior tight end had his toughness severely questioned recently by an anonymous NFL scout, despite the fact that Wolf has started 35 games in college. The criticism was scathing.
The unnamed scout said you won’t see a tight end “block as bad as Ethan Wolf,” that he “avoids contact” and “is one of the softest players I’ve seen on film.” Not everyone agrees.
Former Auburn offensive lineman Cole Cubelic defended Wolf during a recent appearance on “Sport Talk” on WGOW in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“It’s a lot easier to say those kinds of things as unnamed scout or unnamed SEC coach,” said Cubelic, who hosts his own radio show in Huntsville, Alabama and serves as a sideline reporter for SEC Network football broadcasts. “If you’re not going to put your name on something, it’s a lot easier, especially in this world of social media, to go out and bash somebody when you’re not going to have to answer the repercussions for that and you’re not going to have to back up your argument other than ‘I’ve seen the film.'”
Cubelic seemed baffled by the critical comments, which created quite a stir on Twitter from those that jumped to Wolf’s defense.
“As far as what kind of player he is at the line of scrimmage, I wouldn’t use those words,” Cubelic said of the criticism of Wolf’s physicality. “That’s not the verbiage I would use. I try not to be intensively negative when I’m talking about collegiate football players but some of the other things were more bothersome to me.
“Just because that’s not the style of player you are, doesn’t mean that you’re not a good player. So if he’s not an intimidating blocker or a dominant blocker at the point of attack, he can be OK. He can be a different style of football player with the way offenses are constructed.”
Wolf’s style of play is just part of the evolution of tight ends, not an indictment of his style of play, Cubelic said.
“Is Wolf the most physical tight end that I’ve seen in college football? No,” Cubelic said. “There aren’t many physical tight ends anywhere in college football anymore. I make sarcastic comments all the time when I see tight ends actually block somebody that he’s actually a dinosaur of a college football player.
“Those guys aren’t really asked to do that a lot. There aren’t a lot of tight ends that put their hand on the ground next to an offensive tackle and are asked to get movement at the point of attack.”
So the unnamed NFL scout and Cubelic may have some common ground? Not completely, especially when it comes to Wolf’s ability to become a valuable receiver.
“Some of the things about going over the middle and shying away from contact – I think there was even a comment about shying away from catching the ball because of contact – those are things with Ethan Wolfe that I have not seen,” Cubelic said. “He has reliable hands. He’s somebody that can hurt you in the open field. He’s more of a new era tight end.”
Wolf could actually be on the path to stardom, according to Cubelic. Former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was selected with the No. 19 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cubelic said he sees a strong comparison between the two.
“O.J. Howard was the same guy (as Wolf) before last year,” Cubelic said. “O.J. Howard’s blocking improved immensely at Alabama a year ago. But some of the things that this scout said about Ethan Wolf would have been an exact description of O.J. Howard going into last season. He was essentially the same kind of player. Players can improve. Players can grow.”
Like most in the media, Cubelic seemed to see the timing and intent of the column curious.
“Ethan Wolf knows those things (he needs to work on) and his coaches know those things,” Cubelic said. “Until someone on the Tennessee coaching staff comes out and says, ‘Ethan Wolf is a dominant blocker’ or ‘Ethan Wolf is someone that punishes defenders at the point of attack,’ I don’t think they need to be countered with the kind of verbiage that an anonymous scout decided to use.”
(You can follow Dave Hooker on Twitter @TheDaveHooker)
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