The first injury setback of preseason camp has struck for the Coastal Carolina football team.
Senior tight end Thomas Pauciello will miss the upcoming season due to an ACL injury in his knee, coach Joe Moglia revealed Saturday morning.
“There was no contact. He just planted and broke and went down. It was kind of a freak thing,” Moglia said.
Pauciello has been slowed by injuries throughout his collegiate career, but when healthy the 6-foot-6 tight end had proven at times to be an effective target in the passing game for the Chanticleers.
He finished with 15 catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games and four starts last fall and has 30 catches for 441 yards and six touchdowns over the last three seasons.
Moglia said there has been no decision yet whether Pauciello, who sat out his first season with the program, will petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt to gain a sixth year of eligibility.
In the meantime, the Chants will look to 6-foot-5 senior Craig Weick and 6-foot-1 sophomore A.J. Sattinger to play bigger roles at tight end.
“First of all, Tom is in our thoughts and prayers obviously. It’s [unfortunate], this is his third major injury, but we’ve got to close ranks and keep marching,” Weick said. “... He’s still a part of the team and everything like that, but we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
Weick took over as the Chants’ primary tight end down the stretch last season, filling in for an injured Pauciello and starting both of the team’s FCS playoff games. He finished with seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown while being used mostly as a blocker.
That extended game experience was significant in his development, Weick said.
“I think that was the best thing that could have helped me,” he said. “You can practice with the 1s all you want, but that game experience – North Dakota State, Richmond, Liberty – those three big games, that’s experience I would not have had if not for the circumstances.”
Sattinger, meanwhile, played sparingly as a redshirt-freshman last season, but he too should see his opportunities increase.
That said, the Chants are flush with offensive weapons and haven’t featured their tight ends in the passing game significantly in recent years.
“I’ve always said, I don’t care who scores a touchdown. If I can make a key block and get Hop [running back De’Angelo Henderson] in the end zone or free Bruce [Mapp] up on a block then I’ll be glad to do it,” Weick said. “But if the ball comes my way at the goal line and I’ve got to get physical then that’s what I going to do.”
Said Moglie: “Based on kind of what [Weick] did a year ago, he certainly has earned that spot I think. Now, there’s still competition at that spot. A.J.’s doing a good job as well. We’re pretty confident we have two guys instead of three that are certainly ready to go at tight end.”