Tight end at Nevada easy as 1-2-3
Appeal Sports Editor
RENO ” Three years ago, Virgil Green came to the University of Nevada as a wide receiver.
The 6-foot-5 225-pound Green red-shirted his first season, and then missed the following spring, recovering from an injury. The coaching staff moved him to tight end, and he’s improved so much he may make fans forget about Adam Bishop, who was a second-team all-WAC selection last season.
Green, who teams with Kevin Bohr and Talaiasi Puloka to give Nevada a three-headed monster at tight end, scored his first career touchdown last weekend against UNLV, catching a 40-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick in the Pack’s 49-27 win.
Not surprisingly, Green is the best receiver of the trio. He has four catches for 57 yards and a score, while the 6-foot-3 240-pound Bohr, the best blocker of the group, has one catch for 13 yards. Puloka, who backed up Bishop last year, does a little catching and blocking. He has a single catch for nine yards.
It’s a group where each guy has a niche, and one, Puloka, is solid in both areas.
“We’re grooming three guys,” said tight end coach Cameron Norcross. “Only one (Puloka) had any game experience last year, and the two who didn’t (Green and Bohr) are progressing nicely.”
Green, who has the body and stride of a thoroughbred, is seeing his playing time increase from week to week.
“Virgil is a terrific tight end with great speed,” Nevada coach Chris Ault. “He (Green) came out of his shell last year. He can run and put some pressure on you.”
“Virgil is more athletic than Adam coming from being a wide receiver,” added Norcross.
Green showed a little of that speed when he caught the TD pass in the left flat and beat the UNLV secondary to the end zone.
Bishop was a dangerous player in the gold zone, and Green, because of his height and good hands, could be that type of player, too.
“I think I bring athleticism and speed,” Green said. “I think I’ve gotten better in the run game. When I came here I was a receiver, and I wasn’t used to blocking guys bigger than me. I’m trying to get better every year and do what the coaches tell me.”
Despite his lean frame, Norcross said Green has made progress in the run-game blocking.
“Other than the fact that he only weighs 228 he is a very good blocker,” Norcross said. “Against Vegas he was going up against a 300-pound defensive end and he was scrapping all game and did a good job.
“We ask our tight ends to be our sixth and seventh offensive linemen. We ask them to make all kinds of blocks.”
Green has earned the respect of both his tight end teammates, especially Bohr, a JC transfer from Glendale, Arizona, who is the starter. Bohr transferred after his first year in junior college.
“From the spring to fall, Virgil has improved a lot,” Bohr said. “Watching film, he’s just as good as me in run blocking. I think we all really help the offense.”
Despite the fact that Puloka played behind Bishop last season, Bohr won the job because of his excellent blocking skills.
“I’ve done OK so far,” said Bohr, who played mainly on special teams last year, but did manage one reception for 11 yards. “I have a long way to go, but I’m trying to keep getting better.
“I’d like to improve in the pass game; running routes. I want to continue to improve in the run game as well. In the off-season I’ll work on my agility, route running and what not.”
Puloka, who caught five passes for 48 yards last year, has been a little bit of the forgotten man thus far. He did start five games last year, mostly when Nevada opened in a two tight-end set. His lone TD came in the 69-67 four-OT loss to Boise State on national television.
“I do all I can to help the offense,” Puloka said. “The whole group is doing a good job. We’re all strong in certain aspects of the game.”