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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Football

Senior is adaptable to making new adjustments


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Senior tight end Tyler McCloskey provides energy and tenacity to the Cougar football team. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

He was largely overlooked as just a two-star linebacker recruit coming out of high school. Then, his career did a complete turn upon arriving at UH.

Since coming to UH, senior tight end Tyler McCloskey has spent his entire career on the offensive side of the ball. A converted fullback in his first two seasons on the team, McCloskey started just four games and was underused.

McCloskey’s playing time and responsibility increased when head coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator moved him to the tight end position.

“To play tight end, you go to be able to run routes, catch the football and be a physical blocker,” McCloskey said. “(We do that) in order to go fast, so we can get in a four wide spread and still have the six blocking-man service to go fast.”

McCloskey had no problem with the position change, which is the third in his career.

Since the move, the senior has rendered himself as a reliable check-down man for senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. In nearly every game, McCloskey’s name can be heard — not necessarily for a highlight-reel play — but for the play that the offense needs to sustain momentum.

Before the transition, McCloskey had no experience blocking at the line of scrimmage, running routes or even catching footballs. Tight end and fullbacks coach Corby Meekins helped McCloskey learn the intricacies of the position when both spent time watching films or training in the weight room.

The Houston native has since caught numerous first-down passes in clutch situations, provided hard blocks on passes and runs as well as touchdowns against the University of Oklahoma and twice against the University of Cincinnati.

McCloskey’s humble nature and leadership on the field earned him the position of team captain prior to the season — a title given to only four players. He has taken the responsibility to heart.

“Last year, I was just trying to get lined up right on every single play, make sure I did my job,” McCloskey said. “As it got farther along and I learned more about the position, my assignment sort of became second-nature. I absolutely tried to become more vocal, leading by example and telling guys what to do and how we do stuff around here, but then also following through with my actions.”

In his four years on the team, McCloskey has seen all the twists and turns that the Cougars have gone through. Despite losing two games, the senior has kept himself composed and focused on the the next game.

Consequently, his mentality has rubbed off on his teammates and helps them make sure they are playing to the best of their ability week in and week out.

“For myself, I’m just trying to make the most of it,” McCloskey said. “I realize this is the back end of the season and I’m trying to soak everything in, but really as far as the team (the goal is) just to finish strong. We’ve still got so much to play for.”

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