When I think of the Tight End position, I think of the Kellen Winslow types of guys that is huge and has the big hands and catches every pass thrown in his direction. He creates mismatches with defenders because of his huge size, and then usually when he catches the ball he will drag defenders for yards before they can bring him down.
Iron Mike Ditka comes to mind that was just so determined to not be tackled and fought for every single inch he can gain on the football field. In present day, there is Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots who simply cannot be covered and at 6-6, 265 can drag defenders trying to bring him down.
The Tight End is one of the best weapons in football and today’s teams are moving farther and farther away from that position.
But, there are still some coaches around that see the need and still use the Tight End in their offenses and these are the ones I thought were the best on the college level in 2014.
1. Nick O’Leary – Florida State: I have to go with the great Jack Nicklaus’ grand son as my top Tight End in college football for 2014. He is an extremely gifted receiver out of the Tight End position that made big play after big play for the Seminoles the last few seasons.
He’s a bit undersized for the NFL’s taste in Offensive Linemen but he is still a good run blocker. At 6-3, 245, O’Leary caught 48 passes for 618 yards and 8 Touchdowns. He was Jameis Winston’s other security blanket besides Wide Receiver Rashad Green. O’Leary leaves Florida State with 114 career catches and as one of the more reliable and talented Tight Ends in recent seasons. He won’t be the top Tight End on this list drafted by the NFL, but he was the most important Tight End for his team not only this year but the past season as well. Apparently, Nick O’Leary has a similar heart as his grandfather the Golden Bear.
2. Maxx Williams – Minnesota: The Minnesota Gophers love to run the football and Maxx Williams is a good blocker. He’s also the top receiver on the team and caught 36 passes for 569 yards and 8 Touchdowns. Williams runs well and he’s a great athlete demonstrated by his hurdling 2 defenders on the very same play in their bowl game against Missouri. Maxx Williams is 6-4, 250 and he should be playing this game for a while. Williams was a redshirt freshman last season and he brought down 25 passes for 417 yards and 5 Touchdowns so he’s not a one season wonder.
3. Bucky Hodges – Virginia Tech: The former Quarterback is huge at 6-6 but will still fill out at 240 pounds. Bucky Hodges has a great pair of hands and hauled in 45 receptions for 526 yards and 7 Touchdowns. This guy was pretty good as a freshman this season, but will only get bigger and better and has the athleticism to be one of the better weapons at Tight End in some time. This guy will be a fun player to watch for years to come and he may be the one Tight End on this list with the most long term potential.
4. Clive Walford – Miami: There are several programs across the country that always seem to have great Tight Ends and when does the Miami Hurricane program not have a talented guy at the position. Clive Walford is a talented 6-4, 260 senior Tight End that caught 44 passes this past season from talented freshman Quarterback Brad Kaaya. Those receptions tallied 676 yards and 7 Touchdowns for the big man from Belle Glade, Florida.
Over his career, Walford hauled in 121 receptions over 4 years. This is another guy that I will be interested in following in the NFL combine. If he tests well, he could move up to the 2nd or 3rd round.
5. Steven Scheu – Vanderbilt: Scheu was my All SEC Tight End which is saying something because of the talented Tight Ends at Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia to name a few. Scheu is a 6-5, 250 junior and a talented blocker and he is obviously a talented receiver as well.
He caught 39 passes in 2014 leading his team in receptions. Those catches went for 525 yards and 4 Touchdowns.
6, Ben Koyack – Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are another school that has been known for their great Tight Ends. Koyack did not get used as effectively as some past Irish Tight Ends, but he is still bursting with potential. At 6-5, 255, Koyack has the size desired on the next level. He caught 30 passes in 2014 which totaled 317 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
Like so many other prospects this season, Koyack will need to test really well at the combine.
7. EJ Bibbs – Iowa State: Bibbs is a little known Tight End playing on a team that didn’t receive a lot of attention because the team generally doesn’t do very well. Bibbs is a player.
Bibbs is a 6-3, 265 senior from Chicago and is a definite dangerous threat as a receiver. Bibbs caught 45 passes for 382 yards and 8 Touchdowns and with his size is a good blocker at Tight End. He also had 39 catches as a junior in his first season for the Cyclones.
8. Austin Hooper – Stanford: Another school that has been pretty famous for producing big time Tight Ends is Stanford. Sophomore Austin Hooper is the latest in a long line of good players at that position for the Cardinal. Hooper is a 6-4, 250 blocking Tight End with good hands which allowed him to catch 40 passes this season for 499 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
9. Hunter Henry – Arkansas: The Razorbacks have 2 of the better Tight Ends in the country with Henry and former Quarterback AJ Derby. Hunter Henry is a 6-5, 250 sophomore from Little Rock that caught 37 passes for 513 yards and 2 Touchdowns. Last year, as a true freshman, Henry caught 28 passes for 409 yards and 4 Touchdowns. He’s definitely a threat in the passing game and a good blocker. Sidekick, Derby, caught 22 passes for 303 yards and 3 Touchdowns and will be gone next year leaving all the Tight End duties to Henry.
10. Josiah Price – Michigan State: Price was one of Spartan Quarterback Connor Cook’s favorite targets in 2014. Obviously, with the Spartan running game being so strong, he is a good blocker also.
Price caught 17 passes in his freshman season and 26 this season with 6 Touchdowns. The 6-4, 250 sophomore Tight End is from Greentown, Indiana.
11. Jessie James – Penn State: Huge Tight End along the lines of the New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski at 6-7, 255, but probably not as athletic. James caught 38 passes for 396 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Penn State head coach James Franklin loves the running game and a large Tight End like Jessie James is going to be a devastating blocker.
Jessie James was a 3 year starter for the Nittany Lions, but he has already declared for the NFL draft. He will need to do well in his testing to be picked in a lower round, but he has the size that the NFL will love.
12. Pharaoh Brown – Oregon: Brown was having a great season before going down to injury or he may have been much higher on this list. Brown is another large Tight End at 6-6, 250 and had 25 catches by the 10th game and 420 yards and 6 Touchdowns. The Ducks replaced Brown with sophomore Evan Baylis, a 6-6, 250 monster from Centennial, Colorado, admirably and he had 15 receptions for 143 yards and a Touchdown. Hopefully, the junior Brown will return for his senior season in Eugene and improve his game and rehab his injury before moving on to the show.
13. Jean Sifrin – Massachusetts: Should be popular with NFL scouts at 6-7, 250. The big man from Miami, Florida has some hands bringing in 41 receptions for 637 yards and 6 Touchdowns. It’s funny, but a lot of the nation’s better Tight Ends are playing in the MAC. The thinking on Sifrin is he will turn pro and he really should since he is 27 years old and has a 7 year old son. He is projected as a mid to late round pick and graduating is very important to him as well as it should be.
14. Jake Duzey – Iowa: 36 catches for 392 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Runs well for a 6-4, 245 Tight End and is a good blocker. Duzey caught a pass from Iowa Hawkeyes Quarterback Jake Rudock and took it 85 yards against a very good Ohio State defense. I have not seen any indication that he is going to the NFL after this season, so he may be coming back to play his senior season and hopefully so.
Here are a few other Tight Ends that could have possibly made the list. The Mid American Conference known as the MAC easily dominates the Tight End position but that is mostly because a lot of schools have moved away from using Tight Ends.
OJ Howard – Alabama: Big man with speed, but rarely used. I don’t get it.
Brian Vogler – Alabama: Huge Tight End at 6-7, 265 that is great blocker but rarely thrown to.
Jeb Blazevich – Georgia: The true freshman from Charlotte, North Carolina looks like the future.
CJ Uzomah – Auburn: Really good but unused.
Ethan Wolf – Tennessee: Another true freshman with a bright future.
Deon Butler – Central Michigan: The MAC is where it’s at for Tight Ends.
Tyreese Russell – Eastern Michigan: MAC TE led his team in receptions.
Casey Pierce – Kent State: 60 catches for the 6-4, 245 senior from Parma, Ohio.
Alex Welch – Miami Ohio: 6-4, 250 senior from Cincinnati.
Troy Mangen – Ohio: 6-5, 255 sophomore from Union, Ohio. I’m starting to like the MAC more.
Westlee Tonga – Utah: This guy might should be more highly rated. Love his name.
Blake Bell – Oklahoma: Former Quarterback has great size but limited experience. Is 6-6, 260.
Darion Griswold – Arkansas State: Youngest of the Griswold clan. 6-5, 265.
Justin Podrabsky – Idaho: 6-6, 255 sleeper from the Northwest.
Bradley Miller – Texas State: 6-5, 235 and very productive senior.