Head football coach for the University of Central Florida Knights George O'Leary made a bold move coming out of spring camp, converting offensive lineman Chris Martin – all 6-5 and 284 pounds of him – into a blocking tight end after a lack of presence at the position raised a red flag for O'Leary and his offensive coaching staff.
That shift certainly went a long way in strengthening play at tight end for the Knights heading into the 2012 season, but Martin has recently found himself struggling to retain a presumed role as starter, thanks in no small part to an injury to Martin that kept him out of fall practice for several days and the corresponding emergence of his replacement during the period he was absent, sophomore Justin Tukes.
Comments O'Leary on the Knights' current situation at tight end in a Wednesday night column by the Orlando Sentinel's Brendan Sonnone, "Right now, it's a battle out there between [Martin and Tukes with] who's gonna win [a starting role]. Tukes has really come on and I've been happy with him."
O'Leary continues: "… Martin needs to turn it on. You can't miss three days of practice and expect to come back and just be No. 1 again. Tukes is what you want. He's putting competition at the position and making Chris work."
"He's come a long ways," Taaffe adds on the subject of Tukes, who played in five games as a freshman last season. "He's gotten stronger, he's more confident now, he's having some success."
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