With the success that this franchise has had with the tight end position, the fan base likes to get really excited with any new face that springs up in that group. While not every tight end is going to be another Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates, or Hunter Henry, it’s not a bad thing to have high expectations for the position as a whole. Good tight ends can really move the needle on offense and great tight ends have been seen to take NFL offenses to new heights.
Former UDFA tight end Andrew Vollert is likely not going to be a impact player for the Chargers, but he could easily be a serviceable depth piece on a team that doesn’t shy away from utilizing formations with multiple tight ends, especially if the plan is to run the ball more.
Vollert took a rather winding road to get to the NFL and it all started with his original commitment to play at San Jose State University. He spent two years at SJSU, redshirting on the football team in 2013 before earning three starts in 11 games the following season. He finished his redshirt freshman seasons with 22 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown. Vollert also played basketball for San Jose State in 2014.
The San Mateo native chose to transfer and spent a single season at San Francisco City College where he played in eight games and finished with 23 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns. He then transferred to Weber State University where he enjoyed one of the greatest two-year spans for a player in the program’s history.
In his first year with the Wildcats, Vollert amassed 62 catches, 840 yards, and seven touchdowns in 12 games which led to a number of post-season accolades. On top of being name the Newcomer of the Year in the Big Sky Conference, Vollert was named to the First-Team All-Big Sky team and a FCS Third-Team All-American by STATS and the Associated Press.
The 2017 was a repeat performance for Vollert as he caught another 61 catches for 773 yards and five scores. He was once again named a First-Team All-Big Sky honoree but was upgraded to the Second-Team All-American Team by the AP and STATS. He left Weber State as only the 12th player in program history to be named an all-conference member multiple times in a career.
At Weber State’s pro day, Vollert ran a 4.54 forty and was timed at 4.09 in the short shuttle and 6.76 in the 3-cone drill. He also hit 32.5 inches in the vertical and 9’10 in the broad jump.
Before heading to the NFL, Vollert was invited to pay in the East-West Shrine All-Star Showcase.
After a stellar career for the Wildcats, Vollert went undrafted following the 2018 NFL Draft but wound-up being signed by the Arizona Cardinals. He would spend a portion of that season with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Chargers prior to the 2019 campaign.
College: Weber State
Years with team: 1
“Andrew Vollert signed a 2 year, $1,080,000 contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, including an average annual salary of $540,000. In 2020, Vollert will earn a base salary of $610,000, while carrying a cap hit of $610,000.” - Spotrac.com
Vollert brings a vertical presence that fits perfectly within the Chargers’ tight end room. If you delve into the Weber State film from 2016-2017, you’ll notice Vollert’s 6-foot-5 frame getting utilized throughout, especially near the end zone. Vollert’s most popular route is definitely the seam where he can out-leverage the linebackers and create space with what has to be an exceptional basketball background.
He only had one catch before getting hurt, but it was a beautiful grab up the left sideline for a 25 yard gain that showed off how smooth of a runner he is when working his way through coverages.
8️⃣7️⃣ days to Weber State football! Highlights from last year of #87 Andrew Vollert, a two-time All-American at Weber State, now with the @AZCardinals. #WeAreWeber @VollertAndrew pic.twitter.com/ydeI6WaWhy— Weber State Football (@weberstatefb) June 4, 2018
It doesn’t look like Vollert did much in the way of run-blocking while at Weber State and that will definitely hold the young tight end back from making a lasting impression on the Chargers’ coaching staff. While they may keep Virgil Green as the team’s primary run-blocking tight end, the ability to affect the run game surely helped former UDFA Sean Culkin make this team several years ago.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
The Chargers normally keep three tight ends on the roster so Vollert actually has a decent chance of sticking. He’ll have to battle former XFL star Donald Parham for the final slot which may prove to be a tall task (pun intended). Both Vollert and Parham are primarily receiving tight ends and whoever shows they can do the most with the chances they get will come out on top.
Fun Fact: Vollert caught his first collegiate pass at San Jose State but wound-up injured and missed the entire season.