[PODCAST] Buffalo tight ends coach Alan Hensell talks about how to recruit, coach and utilize players at the position

By Keith Grabowski | Posted 5/15/2018

Alan Hensell is the guest on today’s Coach and Coordinator podcast. Hensell is in his fourth season as tight ends coach at the University of Buffalo. In two of his three seasons at Buffalo, the Bulls have produced an All-Mid-American Conference tight end.

Hensell developed young tight ends in 2017, led by sophomore Tyler Mabry, who had 24 receptions for 242 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Zac Lefebvre had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown before an injury ended his season.

In 2016, Mason Schreck was a second-team All-MAC selection after leading the Bulls with 59 catches for 651 yards. His receiving yard total was the most in school history by a tight end. Schreck was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft , becoming the first Buffalo tight end ever drafted.  

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In 2015, Hensell coached Matt Weiser, who had arguably the best season by a tight end in school history. Weiser set the school record for receptions by a tight end with 63 en route to earning All-MAC first-team honors. Weiser also became the first player in Buffalo’s FBS era to be named an Academic All-American.

Hensell came to Buffalo after spending the previous two seasons with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team as its wide receivers coach.

In 2014 as wide receivers coach at UWW, Hensell helped lead the Warhawks to the top passing offense ranking in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Four of his wide receivers earned All-WIAC honors, including two who were named to the first team. Jake Kumerow was named the NCAA Division III Player of the Year.

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 The Warhawks went 15-0 in 2014 and won the Stagg Bowl, the D-III championship, for the sixth time in eight years.

In 2013, two wide receivers earned All-WIAC accolades, including first-team honoree Kumerow. A second team All-West Region selection by d3football.com, Kumerow set school records for receiving yards (1,331) and receiving touchdowns (19) in one season. The team's strong receiving corps helped the Warhawks post a 15-0 record and a national championship.

Hensell came to UWW from D1-AA (FCS) member Gardner-Webb (North Carolina) University, where he was the offensive line coach. During the 2012 season, he helped produce three All-Big South Conference selections, including left guard Jamie Dunaway, who received third-team All–America honors. A total of four players have garnered All–America honors while being tutored by Hensell.

A New Carlisle, Indiana native, Hensell spent time at the University of Connecticut as an offensive quality control coach in February 2012 before joining the Gardner-Webb staff.

Hensell spent the previous five seasons in the Southeastern Conference, including the 2011 season as assistant offensive line coach and offensive graduate assistant at Ole Miss. He worked with the Rebels' offensive line and tight ends in 2011, helping mentor right tackle Bobby Massie, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

In 2010, Hensell served as assistant offensive line coach and offensive intern at the University of Tennessee, where he had the opportunity to coach center James Stone, who earned freshman All-America honors for the Vols. Tennessee was selected to play in the Music City Bowl following the regular season.

Hensell worked his first stint at Ole Miss from 2007-09, working as assistant offensive line coach in 2008 and 2009. The Rebels were 9-4 in each of those seasons, finishing the seasons with AP ranks of Nos. 14 and 20, respectively, and won a pair of Cotton Bowls. In 2008, Ole Miss averaged 407.6 yards of total offense per game and 186.5 yards per game on the ground. Left tackle Michael Oher earned first-team All-America honors and was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. In 2009, the Rebels averaged 402.4 yards per game of total offense, including 183.6 on the ground. Standout offensive lineman John Jerry earned first-team All-America honors that season and was picked in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Hensell began his college coaching career at his alma mater, coaching outside linebackers at Franklin (Indiana) College in 2004. Hensell also served as a student assistant baseball coach during his time at Franklin, helping the team to a 29-15 record, a Heartland Conference championship and a No. 24 national ranking in 2005.

Following his time on staff at Franklin, Hensell moved on to coach quarterbacks at Wisconsin-River Falls in 2005 and 2006. He helped tutor Jeremy Wolff, one of only three signal-callers in Division III who was selected to play in the Aztec Bowl, to All-WIAC honors in 2006.

Hensell started his career in coaching in 2003 at Decatur Central (Indiana) High, coaching quarterbacks following a career-ending injury on the college gridiron.

As a student-athlete, Hensell played two sports at Franklin as a freshman, lining up at running back and receiver, and pitching for the Grizzlies' baseball team. He helped the baseball squad to a 32-10 record, a Heartland Conference title and a No. 30 national ranking as a freshman in 2002. He came to Franklin from New Prairie (Indiana) High School, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball, earning 10 letters throughout his prep career.

Hensell graduated from Franklin in 2005 with a B.A. in physical education and a minor in health education. He earned a master's degree in science and education from Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2015.

In the podcast, Hensell and host Keith Grabowski talk about his background, the specifics about the tight end position and more.

Show notes

  • 1:22      How the tight end position has evolved
  • 2:11      Hansell's background and journey to Buffalo
  • 3:34     Hansell's experience working with Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss
  • 4:10      Relationship-building is the foundation of his career
  • 5:27      Bringing Wisconsin-Whitewater to a national championship level
  • 7:31       Transition from D-III to D-I recruiting
  • 8:35      The Type of offense Buffalo uses
  • 9:25      Knowing how and when to use tight ends
  • 14:12     Organization and quality of coaching tight ends
  • 15:08     Practice structure
  • 17:37      How to recruit tight ends
  • 25:20     The dynamic role of tight ends
  • 30:54     The Winning edge

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