After Northwestern’s awful season, we are evaluating the team’s performance position-by-position. Next up: the tight ends.
Overall Grade: C-
In a very unproductive offense, this group fit right in. Receivers Malik Washington and Donny Navarro III, along with running back Evan Hull, all tallied more receptions on their own than the tight ends combined.
Northwestern ended the season ninth in the Big Ten in receiving yards. However, the tight ends combined to account for just 15.2% of those yards. Surprisingly, that production nearly doubled the percentage from last year’s tight ends. Tight ends in Northwestern’s 2021 offense only accounted for 8.1% of the team’s receiving yardage.
I personally think that a C- is a fair grade for this position group. The lack of production from the tight ends is partially due to the shaky quarterback play this season. While the quarterback situation affected Northwestern’s entire offense, the wide receivers and tight ends naturally suffered the most.
Marshall Lang: C
Stats: 15 receptions, 192 yards
The junior from Cincinnati was able to improve on his sophomore season, where he climbed to the top of the depth chart by the end of the season. In 2021, Lang led Northwestern tight ends with 11 receptions, 68 yards and three touchdown catches.
This year, Lang was able to improve on last year’s overall production, tallying 15 receptions and 192 yards (nearly tripling last year’s total), but as a less effective red zone threat. Lack of red zone production was a trend for this position group and the team as a whole, but while Lang’s stats don’t jump off the page, his season showed signs of promise heading into his senior season.
Thomas Gordon: C-
Stats: 12 receptions, 162 yards
Gordon was by far the team’s most improved player at this position. Last year, he managed just two receptions for three yards. Similar to Lang, the jump in production was a good sign for the junior heading into his senior season. At the same time, Gordon wasn’t a huge receiving threat after his five-catch, 78-yard performance against Duke in Week Two, as he never recorded more than two receptions or 20 yards in the next six games he played in.
Gordon will hope to make another leap next season, and will potentially be part of a strong tight end duo with Lang in 2023 and (hopefully) more consistent quarterback play as well.
Duke Olges: C-
Stats: Three receptions, 30 yards, one touchdown
Olges started the season listed as a defensive lineman on the depth chart. He switched his position to tight end during the season, and was able to secure the only touchdown reception of 2022 from this group in the 33-13 loss to Iowa. Olges had limited production, but considering his switch to a new position, I was lenient with his grade.
Charlie Mangieri: Incomplete
Last year, Mangieri was tied with Lang for the most receiving yards by a Northwestern tight end with 68 yards. This season, Mangieri only played in the loss to Southern Illinois, before suffering a season-ending injury in that game.