Quarterback Austin Hergott switches to tight end; Tony Poljan prospers at new position

Central Michigan tight end Austin Hergott works out with assistant coach Tavita Thompson during open spring practice. Hergott played quarterback in 2018 under former coach John Bonamego.

Austin Hergott is no longer a quarterback.

Just like Tony Poljan did near the conclusion of the 2018 season, Hergott has made the same position switch from quarterback to tight end.

Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain confirmed the change after the Chippewas' open spring practice on April 13 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

"Yeah, he did a good job there," McElwain said. "I think we've had some other guys do it, too. Poljan's okay, so it was a natural progression for us.

"The quality in that room allowed him an opportunity to get on the field."

Hergott played three games at quarterback in 2018, completing 19-of-45 passes for 155 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Of the three games, he started two.

The 6-foot-3, 233-pound new tight end got his first appearance under center in a 17-7 loss to Eastern Michigan on Nov. 3, completing 2-of-5 passes for 22 yards and an interception.

Hergott's next two games, also the final games of the season, were as the starter. In a 24-13 loss to Bowling Green, he was 11-of-21 for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception. For the season finale, a 51-13 loss to Toledo, Hergott was benched after struggling to move the ball down the field.

Now, Hergott's job is to help fill out the tight ends room.

Wide receiver JaCorey Sullivan said the sophomore has done "pretty good" at the tight end position since he made the change.

"He's got a lot of stuff to work on. We all got a lot of stuff to work on," Sullivan said. "When the season comes, he will be an outstanding player."

Central Michigan tight end Tony Poljan gets ready to break the huddle at the Chippewas' open spring practice April 13 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Poljan finds his groove

With his 6-foot-7, 235-pound frame, former coach John Bonamego slated Poljan as his starter for the 2018 season.

It didn't last long.

By the third game, Poljan was replaced by current senior Tommy Lazzaro. However, it wasn't until later in the season that Poljan made an official move to tight end.

Poljan, now a junior, completed 76-of-147 passes for 625 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions for the Chippewas last season. He also caught seven passes for 125 yards and two scores.

Out of Lansing Catholic High School in 2016, Poljan was recruited by Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska to play tight end. Instead, he picked the Chippewas in order to try his luck as a signal caller.

Sullivan said Poljan has improved at tight end since the 1-11 season ended in late November. Now, the quarterback turned tight end has an opportunity to play in an even bigger role in McElwain's offense.

"Last year, all he was running was a fade," Sullivan said. "Since the offseason hit, he's been working on his routes and catching, and he's just getting better."

The tight end room for the 2019 season consists of Hergott, Poljan, sophomore Bernhard Raimann, sophomore Keegan Cossou, redshirt freshman Joel Wilson and incoming true freshman Javon Gantt.