USC tight ends poised as major offensive contributors

Senior tight end Erik Krommenhoek trained with Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper this offseason. (Courtesy of John McGillen / USC Athletics)

USC football’s season kicks off in less than two weeks and as fall camp concludes, the role of the Trojans’ tight ends may expand. 

First-year tight ends coach John David Baker said his crew is ready to contribute.

“We’ve got a couple really talented tight ends in [senior] Erik [Krommenhoek] and [redshirt freshman] Jude [Wolfe] that have put themselves in position to be on the football field,” Baker said. 

Baker, who was part of North Texas’s Air Raid offense as an offensive quality coach, said the success of the tight ends during camp adds to USC’s potential to run an effective scheme. Baker said they’ve been standing out all throughout camp, making it difficult for the coaches to leave them off the field.  

An important part of the offense is Krommenhoek. At 6-foot-5, Krommenhoek creates mismatches all over the field, which allows USC to play at a faster pace, according to Baker.

Krommenhoek, who had 11 receptions last season, is excited to show off his skills as a pass-catcher. 

“We love being physical, we love lining up and running the ball and we’re going to need to do that to be successful this year,” Krommenhoek said. “That’s going to be an enhanced role in our offense and I’m excited.” 

Krommenhoek mentioned that he has been studying San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who attended the same high school as Krommenhoek in the Bay Area.

Krommenhoek said he spent the offseason training with Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams even showed up to train one day. 

“We were just learning, throwing around, working out and I’m just trying to learn as much as I could and kind of get in some offseason work,” he said. “[Also] just kind of learning whatever I can to improve my route game and running game.”

Not only is Krommenhoek a potentially important receiver, but coaches consistently mentioned him as one of the team leaders in camp. 

“I think just trying to get people to do the best they can and be the best version of themselves is something I’m trying to bring out of everybody,” Krommenhoek said.

The Trojans will look to play at a faster pace this year, meaning it could be a challenge to keep the tight ends on the field. However, Baker mentioned the players have demonstrated their value so far.

“We gotta bring value to us being on the football field, we have to prove our worth,” Baker said. “And I would say over the first two weeks of camp, our guys have done that.” 

Baker also provided an update on senior tight end Josh Falo, who will look to make a bigger impact for the Trojans. Falo missed some time during the offseason, Baker said. 

“He’s slowly kind of been working his way back in, he’s had an integral part,” Baker said. “He had a great day of practice yesterday so it’s just slowly working his way back in and getting him back in playing shape.”

Krommenhoek and Baker both had high praise for redshirt freshman tight end Jude Wolfe. Wolfe has been eased into camp out of caution over a back injury.

“He’s incredibly talented. I think we’ve seen that the first two weeks of camp,” Krommenhoek said. “Just super explosive, loves to play, loves to run, loves to hit. I think he’s just matured so much in the last 12 months.”

The Trojans will look to use yet another part of their powerful offense beginning Nov. 7 against Arizona State.