CHARLOTTESVILLE — When Scott Wachenheim looks into the future, he likes what he sees.
Wachenheim coaches UVa’s tight ends, and that should be a position of strength in 2011 and beyond.
Virginia’s No. 1 tight end, Joe Torchia, is a senior, but behind him are sophomores Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman. And among the true freshmen redshirting this season are tight ends Zach Swanson and Jake McGee, both of whom have impressed Wachenheim.
Swanson and McGee are with the scout team most of the time, but “I keep them after every practice for about five minutes,” Wachenheim said, “and we work on fundamentals: just the fundamentals of run blocking, the fundamentals of pass blocking, the fundamentals of route running.
“They’re both getting bigger and stronger, they both get better every day, and I think they’re both going to be very good players for us, as early as next year. So I’m excited that they’re here. I’m excited to coach them, and I think the future is very bright with those two young men at the tight end position.”
Swanson is listed at 6-6, 225 pounds. The 6-5 McGee, a graduate of Collegiate School in Richmond, came to UVa as a quarterback but switched to tight end early in training camp.
“I think Jake understands running pass routes, because he’s played quarterback, and there’s been a lot of quarterbacks that have moved to tight end, like Jay Novacek and [former UVa great] Heath Miller, just two off the top of my head,” Wachenheim said.
“Jake’s got great hands, he’s got good speed for the position, he’s strong, and he’s tough. What he needs to do is, he needs to learn how to block, because he’s never done that.
“The first day he got in a stance, it was not pretty, but he’s learned pretty much how to do that. Just the minor fundamentals of blocking and getting in a stance and then route running, he’s learning. But he’s got great hands, great ability and he’s tough and he’s physical, and I think his future will be very, very bright.”
On UVa’s roster, McGee is listed at 210 pounds. He’s actually up to about 220, so “we’re getting him bigger and stronger,” Wachenheim said, “and hopefully by next year we can get him on the field, which I’m sure we will, because I think he’s a great talent.”