After a shortened season capped by a Citrus Bowl victory, it’s time to begin our postseason coverage by handing out grades and taking a look at what’s to come in the fall. We’ll evaluate each position group and discuss how well they performed, as well as what the future might hold. Up next are the tight ends.
Overall grade: B+
With a rejuvenation in the passing game thanks to new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, the tight ends combined for more than quadruple the receptions they saw last year, turning four into touchdowns. The unit totaled over 30 receptions and almost reached the 300 receiving yard mark.
In the run-centric offense, Northwestern’s tight ends played a pivotal role in the rushing attack. They were often put in motion pre-snap and were key blockers that allowed Cam Porter, Drake Andersen, Isaiah Bowser and Evan Hull to accelerate into the open field and bring the offense closer to a score.
The group earned a B+, as it showed what it could do in a better situation following a tough 2019. Let’s get into each player that propelled the Northwestern offense to success in 2020.
John Raine: A-
Stats: 24 receptions, 233 yards, 2 touchdowns
Though he played only six games for the Wildcats, John Raine had a strong year with Northwestern. The FAU grad transfer averaged four receptions a game for just under 40 yards per outing. He found the endzone twice, including a key six-yard reception that put the ‘Cats up 14-0 in the Citrus Bowl.
Raine made his mark for the Wildcats in 2020, immediately cementing his presence with an impressive five reception, 53-yard performance against Maryland. He finished the season with his best game of the year, grabbing six receptions and 76 yards and a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers.
As an experienced transfer, Raine took over as the starting tight end and made his mark. He was on the field a lot in 2020, whether it be blocking on rushing attempts or running routes in passing sets. He will not return in 2021, but his impact on the No. 10 Northwestern Wildcats will not be forgotten.
Charlie Mangieri: B
Stats: 7 receptions, 53 yards, 2 touchdowns
Charlie Mangieri played six games for Northwestern en route to seven receptions for a total 53 yards. Mangieri hit paydirt twice: once in the triumphant victory over Wisconsin and again versus rival Illinois.
Mangieri played more of a receiving role in 2020 than he did in 2019, but his involvement in the passing game remained limited. He did a lot as a blocker and helped out in goal-line sets where he was able to fake as a blocker and grab Northwestern two easy touchdowns. He no longer remained the starting tight end for the ‘Cats and played second fiddle to Raine. Regardless, Mangieri had a good year and will return for the 2021 season as the starter.
Thomas Gordon: Incomplete
Gordon was the third most utilized tight end for the ‘Cats in 2020. He was used solely as a pass blocker but appeared in every game during his redshirt freshman season. Gordon will look to pair with Charlie Mangieri next year as the two main options in both receiving and blocking and will compete for the starting job in 2021.