The number 23 is not a tight end's number, so it's appropriate that Ben Bresnahan has been wearing it as his role on the West Forsyth football team has morphed into something that can't be defined by a single position.
Well, Bresnahan didn't go away from his main number, 88, by choice: The Wolverines just couldn't find a white road jersey with that number for their game against Pace Academy, so they gave Bresnahan 23. West won that game, so there was no changing it in the future.
"We haven't even looked for 88," Wolverines head coach Shawn Cahill said.
Bresnahan still sees himself as a tight end, and that's what he plans to play in college at Vanderbilt, where he also hopes to go back to wearing 88 full-time. But this year, he's an offensive talent well beyond most of his peers, and the Wolverines have taken advantage of that, putting Bresnahan in just about every conceivable situation on offense.
"If you were going to ask me right now, as a college recruiter, what should I recruit Ben at, I would just say, 'An athlete,'" Cahill said.
Bresnahan can catch the ball, in short routes over the middle where he lines alongside the linemen or on throws down the sideline, where he's split out like a wide receiver. Early in the region schedule, he started running the ball, lining up in heavy sets in goal line situations against Milton and taking the snap directly. Against Forsyth Central, when Bresnahan ran nine times for 76 yards and two touchdowns, he basically played tailback in some situations.
And seemingly for the sake of completeness, Bresnahan has also thrown a pass, a flat-footed, short-armed rainbow in the second quarter against Central that Bryce Jones caught for a 25-yard touchdown.
"(Jones) gave me some grief for how high I threw it, but I was like, 'You know, it got there, you caught it, it was a touchdown,'" Bresnahan said. "It's all good."
This is not Cahill's first time expanding a star athlete's role. When he was offensive coordinator at Lanier, he used Derrick Brown, a 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound defensive tackle now playing at Auburn, as a running back, and Tyler Taylor, now a linebacker at LSU, as a receiver. In the Wolverines' game at Hillgrove earlier this season, Cahill saw the Hawks put stud defensive back recruit Jaylen McCollough in as a running back, and he subsequently gashed West.
"That was probably the best coaching move I've seen in a long time," Cahill said.
West's coaches started playing with the idea of using Bresnahan as a running back during the spring, but with a whole new offense to install, they didn't rush him into the role. When region play came around, West decided it was time to get the most out of its SEC commit.
In Bresnahan, the Wolverines have an player who's capable of playing almost anywhere and, more importantly, is willing to do so. Cahill has coached players who purposely play worse at a different position so they won't have to play there full-time and lose their status of being the best player on the field.
He doesn't have that problem with Bresnahan.
"The really good ones, though, will step up and say, 'Whatever you've got to do to help our team out, just put me where you've got to put me,'" Cahill said.
Bresnahan has defensive capabilities, too: He's practiced at outside linebacker for West, and when the Wolverines had to defend one last desperation play in their win over Lambert last week, the coaches considered putting Bresnahan in as a deep safety. Back when Bresnahan was a freshman, he was a punter.
The senior has had fun with his expanded role this season, but some things don't change for Bresnahan. He still thinks of himself as a tight end, and there's still nothing better for him than catching passes.
"Just to go up for a ball and to moss any corner, linebacker or anything like that (is) always fun," Bresnahan said. "Definitely, that's the favorite."