Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The tight end position will be a strength in the Big Ten this season, and the Nassau County Sports Commission seems to agree.
Those are the folks that sponsor the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. The Mackey Award watch list came out today, and it included six players from the Big Ten.
Jake Ballard, Sr., Ohio State
Charlie Gantt, Jr., Michigan State
Garrett Graham, Sr., Wisconsin
Michael Hoomanawanui, Sr., Illinois
Tony Moeaki, Sr., Iowa
Andrew Quarless, Sr., Penn State
Wisconsin's Graham certainly has to be a top candidate for the award after leading the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (540) and receiving touchdowns (5) last season.
Both Gantt and Hoomanawanui come off strong seasons, and Ballard told me at Big Ten media days that he expects Ohio State's tight ends to play much bigger roles in the passing attack this fall. Moeaki and Quarless were selected largely on potential, but both men should be key contributors in 2009.