NEW YORK—This is the sixth part of a preseason series previewing each of the 2017 Columbia Football position groups. For our next position group preview, we take a look at Columbia’s tight ends in 2017.


Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Mark Fabish is excited about what he sees from his seven-member tight end unit. Though the unit lost John Hunton (eight receptions for 94 yards) to graduation, the tight ends have much promise, the tight ends have much promise.


“It really has been an awesome preseason for the group,” Fabish said. “They’ve all practiced every day, which is great. That’s a positive. While they’re all taking reps, they’re all functioning at a very high level. We have seven kids in the group, including two freshmen, who are doing a great job.”


Fabish sees the group emerging as a key to Columbia’s offense.


“They’re going to have a role,” Fabish said. “Our goal as an offensive staff is to make sure the defense will have to defend all 11 players on every play. They have to be a threat. That’s a great part about our tight ends. They are threats in the pass game. They’ve done a great job in practice, but know you’ve got to do it on Saturdays.”


Sophomore Rory Schlageter emerged as the starter toward the end of the 2016 season. He started two games and saw action in eight games at tight end and though, he didn’t make a catch, contributed in the run game and blocking schemes. Senior Marcus Briscoe makes the move to tight end from wide receiver and his progress has been. Last year he saw action on special teams, missed his sophomore year with an injury and made 16 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown as a receiver during his first-year in 2014. He gives Columbia a different look at tight end.


Other tight ends who will make an impact include sophomore Ben Hill and seniors Zach Dansby and David Donovan. Two promising freshmen—Casey Mariucci and Cameron Lipton-Martinez—enter the mix.


“The transition of Marcus Briscoe from wide receiver to tight end has been awesome for our offense,” Fabish said. “On top of his willingness to be a blocker, make the position shift and his ability to take the knowledge that he had from playing receiver and incorporate that in his route running has been outstanding. He’s a strong sun of a gun. He works at it. He believes in what we’re coaching him and he trusts his technique. When you use good technique, his 6-foot-2, 220 frame goes a long way. He’s not someone who we’re going to have sub out to block. He checks all the boxes.”


“Then you’ve got two sophomores—Rory Schlageter and Ben Hill—they’re both tough guys who are willing to do all the blue collar work. They’re great, they’re tough, they’re nasty and bring a demeanor that our offense needs and rallies around. Zach Dansby and David Donovan as seniors are also doing a really good job bringing maturity and confidence to the group.”


“The combination of those five, then you add in Casey Mariucci, who is a gifted athlete and Cameron Lipton-Martinez, who is a big bruiser as well. I believe Casey, down the road, is going to be a great pass catcher. It’s an awesome group and a fun group to work with.”