By Rob Gray
AMES — Ernst Brun put Iowa State’s football foes on notice.
“With this two tight end set, we’ll be very effective,” Brun, the No. 1 man at that position, said. “I don’t think teams will see it coming.”
Brun, who caught 26 passes for 330 yards and six touchdowns last season, is already squarely on the list of concerns for opposing game planners.
The addition of junior college transfer E.J. Bibbs — who spurned an offer from Oklahoma to come to Ames, hoists the tight end position to headliner status for the Cyclones.
And Brun and Co. better live up to top billing.
“This offense revolves around tight ends,” offensive line coach and pistol formation innovator Chris Klenakis said.
That means clutch catches and stout blocking will be required.
Brun’s always excelled at the former — his six touchdowns eclipsed the total celebrated former tight end Collin Franklin had (five) in his ISU career.
As for the blocking …
“I’ve come a long way,” said Brun, a 6-3, 251-pound senior. “When I first got here, I was about 215, 220 and never blocked a soul. Hated it. Never lifted a weight in junior college; just got out there and played football. Ran and caught the ball. Now I’m more of a tight end.”
A complete tight end.
“Ernst has very good hands — great hands, OK?” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said.
How good, er great?
ISU tight ends coach Bill Bleil, Rhoads said, reported that Brun dropped one pass in the first seven days of fall camp.
So where’s the rub?
“He’s not a big endurance guy,” Rhoads said of Brun. “And when you’re in an offense that likes to move as fast as ours does, you need him to come along as far as he can. … You’ve got to push your body’s limitations to get that accomplished.”
Brun’s big and strong, but not an every-down type.
That’s where Bibbs — who caught six touchdown passes for Arizona Western Community College last season — comes in.
“I know I’m athletic,” the 6-3, 250-pound junior said. “I know I can catch the ball, I’ve got to work on my weakness: blocking.”
Rhoads said Bibbs is potentially more explosive then Brun, which adds intrigue to the “revolves around tight ends” equation.
“There’s no question you’ll see multiple tight ends on the field with our offense,” Rhoads said. “Do we use that in conjunction with two backs, two wide receivers, three wide receivers and so forth? We’ll see.”
Both Rhoads and offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said they’ll strive to get the best players on the field at all times.
So double tights it is.
Not just Brun and Bibbs, either.
“Don’t leave out a guy by the name of Ben Boesen (6-6, 230),” Rhoads said. “Blocks his tail off and catches the ball well.”
Just like Brun.
Nowadays, he’s a captain and standard-bearer.
“I’m learning from my mistakes,” Brun said. “I didn’t take coaching well when I first got here. Coach Rhoads will tell you that. I had a bubble around me and I didn’t want to be coached because I thought I was ‘that guy.’ Now, I feel like I’ve taken this role and I have to play. Blocking now — the sky’s the limit now. I can block and stay consistent now. It’s going to be a great year.”
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