Tight ends are an odd duck. They're not quite receivers, not quite offensive linemen, though they do a little of both jobs. So I thought I'd break them out into their own category as the final group for our post-spring Big East position rankings:
1. Cincinnati: It's unclear how new coach Butch Jones will use tight ends in his offense, but he's got great options there. Ben Guidugli is an all-conference performer, while Adrien Robinson is a physically imposing player at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds. Don't forget Travis Kelce, either. They just add to the seemingly never-ending offensive stockpile the Bearcats have.
2. Rutgers: D.C. Jefferson caught only five balls last year, but remember he made a late switch to tight end before the season began. A terrific 6-foot-6 athlete, this could be a breakout year for him. Paul Carrezola turned some heads this spring as well.
3. West Virginia: Tyler Urban and Will Johnson are two talented and experienced tight ends who could start for many teams. They'll help in the running game. The question is whether the Mountaineers will use the tight end more in the passing game as often promised.
4. Connecticut: Ryan Griffin quietly developed into a valuable target in 2009 and could be counted on even more this year as a receiver. John Delahunt got some valuable experience as well in '09 and should contribute.
5. Pittsburgh: What a change from the past year, when the Panthers had the top two tight ends in the league in Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham. Now it's time for Mike Cruz to emerge as the next playmaker at the position. Virginia transfer Andrew Devlin and Brock DeCicco will also look to crack the lineup.
6. Louisville: Cameron Graham has shown flashes of his ability and had a nice spring. The senior should turn into a more consistent presence, especially in the Florida-esque offense. Pete Nochta needs to live up to his potential.
7. Syracuse: Losing Mike Owen leaves this group as a big unknown. Senior Nick Provo, who finished the spring as a starter, hasn't posted many stats in his career. Hofstra transfer Jose Cruz is a big target.
8. South Florida: The Bulls didn't use tight ends much in the spread offense. They could see a resurgence under Skip Holtz. Current starter Jeff Hawkins has only played in one career game.