NY Jets tight end Chris Herndon is working hard to forge a bounceback season in 2021, attending Tight End University in Nashville.
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the first annual Tight End University (TEU), a summit organized by George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, and retired Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.
Think of it as a place where the big boys head during the offseason, a spot where NFL tight ends come together to train.
According to the San Francisco 49ers’ website, over 40 tight ends traveled to Nashville, TN to take part in the event. New York Jets fourth-year tight end Chris Herndon was one of those tight ends in attendance.
Herndon can be seen as the sixth man from the right in the middle row of this group photo shared by the TEU Instagram account.
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The three-day summit was centered around “technique, film study, on-field drills, rehab, and recovery,” according to the 49ers. Following a welcome reception on Wednesday, the camp shifted to training and drills on Thursday before wrapping up the unit on Friday with a youth football camp.
Kittle spearheaded the creation of the event. He hoped that an agglomeration of the league’s tight end talent could allow them to make each other better and improve the overall state of the position league-wide.
“My goal is to bring all these guys together,” Kittle said. “Tight end is a position where you have to run block, pass pro, run routes, catch the ball, run routes on DB’s, you have to get to the second level on linebackers, run routes against safeties – like, you kind of have to do everything. So why not bring all the world’s best to one location and then learn from each other?”
The Iowa product does not seem worried about giving up any of his best secrets. Instead, Kittle is laser-focused on serving as an advocate of sorts for a tight end position that he sees as criminally undervalued, hoping that the big pass-catchers around the league can aid one another in collectively improving the financial value of the position.
“When one tight end succeeds, when we’re all succeeding, then everyone gets to benefit off of each other, whether that’s from guys playing well and getting contracts so the tight end position gets paid more,” Kittle said.
“I feel like the tight end does a lot. You look at the last 10 Super Bowls, I think every team that’s won has had a dominant, very talented tight end. It has to do with winning Super Bowls. I think that’s the most important thing. So, you might as well pay the tight ends. I just kind of want that number to keep going up.”
A fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft, Kittle inked a five-year, $75 million contract with the 49ers this past April, the largest at his position in NFL history.
Herndon, a former fourth-round pick, had a rookie season that suggested he could have a future similarly bright to Kittle’s. Herndon posted 39 receptions, 502 yards, four touchdowns, and 9.0 yards per target in his 2018 rookie season – eerily similar to Kittle’s 43 receptions, 515 yards, two touchdowns, and 8.2 yards in his 2017 rookie season.
Kittle followed his surprisingly solid rookie campaign with a breakout to stardom, averaging at least 75 yards per game in each of the next three seasons. Herndon’s fate was not as promising. He was limited to one game in his second season and struggled mightily in his third, dipping down to 31 receptions, 287 yards, three touchdowns, and 6.4 yards per target.