Editor's note: We broke down LSU's need to improve at quarterback as part of our SEC blog's positional series two weeks ago. This week on the LSU blog, we continue our position-by-position look at the 2015 Tigers.
Although he won't be around to make a difference in the fall, Logan Stokes sees great potential from his former position mates at LSU.
Tight end was one of the deepest positions on the team last season, and even without Stokes and fellow 2014 senior Travis Dickson, it should remain a valuable group this season.
"I expect nothing but the absolute best from those guys," said Stokes, whose lone reception at LSU went for the game-winning touchdown last season against Ole Miss.
Stokes' specialty was blocking, but the Tigers have several tight ends with receiving skills. The question is whether they will actually get many balls thrown their way. LSU tight ends accounted for just 12 receptions last season, including seven by Dickson and one by Stokes. DeSean Smith accounted for the other four (for 66 yards), all of which came in a bowl loss against Notre Dame.
"[Smith is] just going to continue to grow and get better and I think that he could definitely be one of the best tight ends in college football next year," Stokes said. "Jacory could be one of those guys, too, him or Jeter. All three of those guys bring something special to the table."
Gordon is the veteran of the bunch after starting 25 games in the last two seasons, but he is predominantly a dominant blocker.
"We can put him over there by one of those tackles and there's a bang on that side," LSU coach Les Miles said.
If the tight ends account for more passing production, it will probably come from Smith, Washington and Jeter.
Rising junior Smith might be the frontrunner to get the most looks, but Washington will also be an intriguing player to watch in the spring and preseason. He redshirted last fall because of the Tigers' considerable depth at the position, but his athleticism will make him an asset moving forward.
"I think Jacory's going to be a monster one day," Stokes said. "He's big, tall, strong. Just coming here, they wanted him to put some size on and get used to the system and we had a lot of older guys in front of him, so they redshirted him. But it's definitely benefited him a lot. He looks a lot more comfortable out there at practice, especially blocking. I don't think he had ever blocked before he got here and he's actually going to be a very good blocker."
The Tigers already have commitments from two tight ends for this recruiting class -- one of whom, blocking specialist Hanner Shipley, has already enrolled.
But the Tigers will again be led by veterans at tight end, and they will benefit from the versatility that exists within the bunch.
"They all kind of have what the other one doesn't have, I guess you could say," Stokes said. "They're going to work out perfect next year."
Returning players: Dillon Gordon (no catches in 2014), Colin Jeter (no catches), DeSean Smith (4-66), Jacory Washington (redshirted).
Departed players: Travis Dickson (7-60), Logan Stokes (1-3, TD).
Outlook: Will this be the year where LSU makes greater use of the tight end in the passing game? The Tigers finally looked to the position a bit in the bowl loss to Notre Dame, but their tight ends mostly served as blockers in 2014. There is a good mixture of skillsets in the group, with Gordon easily the top returning blocker and youngsters Smith and Washington as candidates to contribute as receivers.