Anytime you can take in a transfer who redshirted their first year in school, the chances are you will be getting a more physically and mentally mature player. That is what the University of Tennessee staff is hoping in regards to new tight end signee, Mychal Rivera, out of College of the Canyons in Southern California. The sophomore-to-be initially attended the University of Oregon out of Birmingham High School in the Los Angeles area. After winning back to back city titles at Birmingham, Rivera was thought to be the next in a long line of successful tight ends at Oregon. As it turns out, it just wasn’t the right fit and Rivera now finds himself headed across the country to Knoxville where he will have three years to play three upon his arrival.
That time frame is part of what attracted Rivera to the Vols and his belief that he can step in and help diversify the offense helped lead him to UT. After setting visits to Kansas State, Utah State, Syracuse and South Carolina, Rivera was set to choose between those four schools. However, he received a late offer from the Vols and decided to visit the UT campus. As it turns out, the campus, the system, and the opportunity were just what Rivera had been looking for all along. It is a good fit for both parties. Rivera can come in and play right away and provide depth for the Vols offense. At the same time, he has the opportunity to showcase his talent at a big time, SEC program.
Here is what ESPNU and Scouts, Inc had to say about Rivera coming out of high school in 2008…
(Done for the Class of 2008) Rivera is a good-looking prospect who flashes athletic potential at the tight end position. Currently does not possess the elite size to dominate as a blocker or the speed to stretch a defense. He does display quality skill on both ends. Utilizes his athletic frame and soft hands to make some great grabs on the run, in traffic and impressively behind his body. Flashes a smooth release and is savvy breaking off routes in empty space. He can absorb a hit and turn upfield with a little shake. Shows initial blocking skill finding proper angles and positioning his body. However, he does not finish consistently. Quick to wall off defenders but often stops his feet, stands high and does not aggressively sustain blocks. Needs to build up upper-body strength to assist in his separation and engagement. As a receiver, we would like to see him become more north-south after the catch. Is athletic enough to shake but needs to limit himself to one cut before heading upfield. Currently not overly elusive, and it will become more difficult at the next level. We feel he would be best bulking up, building speed and lowering the shoulder more often on defenders. Rivera needs to play with a consistent motor, continue to develop physically and fine tune his natural athletic skills. A red-shirt year in college might accomplish that.
Rivera had some work to do coming out of high school, but a redshirt year at Oregon and a solid year at a high level junior college helped him in more ways than one. Rivera has made a lot of progress and is now considered the type of player who can get the job done in the rough and tumble SEC.
Rivera is one of those tight ends that won’t wow you with his speed or athleticism and he won’t do a lot to draw attention to himself either, which can be a good thing. But he is very solid in all aspects of the game and he is expected to make an impact for the Vols offense in the next couple of years.