Black and gold, hold the red

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Chase Hoffman makes an impact for Missouri as a true freshman.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Gary Pinkel has seen enough of Chase Coffman through two games to know he made the right decision to play the freshman tight end instead of redshirting him.

"I'm on the sideline saying, 'This guy's a freshman?' This is only the second game he's played in college," Pinkel said.

On Saturday against New Mexico, Coffman had six catches for a team-high 49 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown on third-and-goal to tie the game 35-35 midway through the fourth quarter. Missouri (1-1) eventually lost 45-35.

Still, Coffman was impressive for the second straight game, catching a touchdown pass in each game.

"Chase Coffman, obviously, has made some plays," Pinkel said. "He's as good as any freshmen I've ever seen play. Some players I'd be hesitant to say that about because I don't think they could handle it, but I think he can. He's a very mature young guy with a remarkable future."

Any thoughts of having the freshman sit a year ended in summer workouts, Pinkel said.

"As we were going through camp his name just kept coming up," Pinkel said. "We said, 'Well, we probably should redshirt him. Well, I don't know, this guy looks like he could play now.' Then finally we made a decision to (let him play)."

Coffman, who helped lead Raymore-Peculiar High School to the Missouri Class 5 state title in 2004, has even surprised himself.

"I don't think I expected this much either," he said. "I didn't know at all that I would be able to come in here and make an impact like this. It feels great, but I always have room to get better. There are a lot of games ahead."

An all-state player in high school, Coffman has a tight end pedigree. His father, Paul Coffman, played tight end in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers (1978-85) and Kansas City Chiefs (1986-87).

Coaches say the 6-foot-6, 230-pound player runs precise routes and gets open. He reads the defense and calls out blitzes. He has great body control and looks smooth on the field.

Now, coaches want Coffman to gain more weight and become more physical as a blocker.

Teammates say his biggest assets are his height and his hands.

Quarterback Brad Smith said he likes to throw to Coffman because he's a big target. Tailback Tony Temple said, "He doesn't drop anything, even in practice he doesn't drop anything."

Wide receiver Sean Coffey has been impressed, too.

"He's rolling, and he's rolling early, and I like that," Coffey said. "It's a very tough transition from high school to college, and he's handling it all well."

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