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Arizona moves starting tight end to offensive tackle

Jack Baucus

Jack Baucus was the first-string tight end entering fall camp. Photo by David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic

Sophomore Jack Baucus, the projected starting tight end for the Arizona Wildcats, has been moved to offensive tackle.

“We want to strengthen our offensive line,” coach Mike Stoops said. “He’s 270 and has struggled to keep his weight down. Long term, I think that’s the best.

“That’s not an uncommon move for big tight ends. That’s a pretty natural move. His athleticism becomes a great strength, and he’ll be 285, 290 by the time the season rolls around. … I feel Jack is going to be an excellent player there.”

Baucus was the second-string tight end last season behind departed A.J. Simmons, with four catches for 22 yards.

The tight end position isn’t expected to play a major role in Arizona’s four-wide spread passing game, with 6-foot-4 slot receiver Terrence Miller having become a dangerous over-the-middle threat for the Wildcats.

Junior college transfer Drew Robinson, true freshman Michael Cooper and hybrid H-back Taimi Tutogi will handle the tight end position, Stoops said. The use of the position “will depend on how many big sets we get in,” Stoops added.

Baucus, who wore No. 86, will now be No. 67.

Baucus underwent minor knee surgery in the summer to remove part of the meniscus in the right knee — a clean-up procedure from a high school ACL tear — but he was able to recover in time for camp.

I asked him earlier this week if he could have grown himself into an offensive lineman if he had wanted to.

“I think so,” he said. “I have the build for it. Personally, I would much rather play tight end. To me, it’s more fun.

He joins his brother, redshirt freshman Mickey Baucus – the projected starter at left tackle — on the line.

“I see my brother playing tackle and seeing how much fun he is having, I think, ‘Yeah, I could definitely do that if I needed to.’”

And now he needs to.

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