Alex Van Dyke bolsters UCLA’s thin tight ends group
LOS ANGELES >> Alex Van Dyke glanced at UCLA’s thinning tight ends group and saw a chance to get on the field. He didn’t necessarily think he would be getting on the field this fast.
Van Dyke, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver with five career catches, made his on-field debut as a tight end last week against Oregon after switching positions less than two weeks ago. He didn’t have any experience at tight end, but he doesn’t care as long as he can help the Bruins (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) on the field.
“(I’m) just an athlete, man,” Van Dyke said. “It was just an opportunity to get on the field and I took it.”
With Austin Roberts’ status unclear after the redshirt junior suffered a high ankle sprain last week, Van Dyke could be in line for more opportunities against No. 12 Washington (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) on Saturday as he continues to adjust to his new position.
Seeing Caleb Wilson go down with a season-ending foot injury against Colorado inspired Van Dyke to approach offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and ask for the switch.
The senior warmed up with the tight ends on the road against Arizona but didn’t get in on offense. Van Dyke was pressed into duty against Oregon after Roberts’ first-quarter injury. He lined up at an H-back position off the line of the scrimmage while redshirt freshman Jordan Wilson assumed the typical tight end position on the line.
“He can create a match-up problem because he’s got size and length and he can run well,” head coach Jim Mora said of Van Dyke as a tight end. “Teams will have to decide how they want defend him. I’m sure we’ll just continue to expand his role as he learns more and more.”
Van Dyke said tight end is “a whole new world.” The size advantage […]