We continue our look at team position rankings with tight ends. This is never an easy group to judge, and this year is no exception with so many starters gone. Here they are:
1. Connecticut. Ryan Griffin finished third on the team with 245 yards receiving and a touchdown, but he was pushed in the spring by two other good players: John Delahunt and Corey Manning. Delahunt and Griffin were listed atop the post-spring depth chart. Both are big with good hands. This group has talent and depth, earning the top spot in the rankings.
2. Syracuse. Nick Provo has proven to be an excellent pass-catcher with good size. Last season, he had 33 catches for 365 yards and a touchdown and is penciled in to start in 2011. He has been injury-prone so he needs to stay healthy. Depth is a question mark here, though Beckett Wales is expected back in the fall.
3. Louisville. A few fans wondered why Josh Chichester was not included in the receiver rankings. The reason is because he will be playing more tight end this season, according to offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. That should bode well for the Cardinals. Chichester is a 6-foot-8, 240 pound big-time target who had 317 yards and five touchdowns last season and should help make up for the loss of Cameron Graham. Sanford also is expecting big things from Stephon Ball and Nate Nord.
4. Rutgers. The running theme with DC Jefferson has been getting him to live up to his potential. At 6-6, 258 pounds, he has ideal size, but has yet to truly make an impact. Rutgers has a new tight ends coach in Brian Angelichio tasked with getting Jefferson to improve.
5. USF. The Bulls lose starter Kevin Gidrey but have the potential to be better here with Andreas Shields in the starting lineup. Shields is big and athletic and capable of making big plays. Isaac Virgin is listed behind Shields.
6. Cincinnati. There is much uncertainty for the Bearcats at this position with the loss of Ben Guidugli, second-team All-Big East selection. Senior Adrien Robinson, junior Travis Kelce and sophomore Blake Annen are all in the mix. Annen is atop the depth chart headed into the fall. Kelce has potential, and coach Butch Jones talked about seeing him step up this season. Someone will have to.
7. Pittsburgh. The Panthers use more of an H-back/TE in the spread offense, but they took a hit when Mike Cruz left the team in the spring. They do have talent in Hubie Graham, an Illinois transfer, and Brock DeCicco, who made a few starts last season. But this position is going to be a big unknown headed into the season.
NR: West Virginia. The Mountaineers do not use a tight end off the line of scrimmage in Dana Holgorsen's offense. What about Tyler Urban you ask? He has moved to inside receiver and will primarily play that position.