Thursday, February 13, 2014
Top position classes: TEs
By Gerry Hamilton
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.
Nationally (and Big 12) Oklahoma addressed many needs with its top-15 recruiting class, and that certainly includes the tight end position. Coach Bob Stoops and his staff signed a trio of tight ends, including ESPN 300s No. 277 Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and No. 295 Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), as well as three-star junior college prospect Isaac Ijalana (Mount Holly, N.J./Pierce College). All three players have terrific size of at least 6-foot-5, and Meier and Andrews possess the frame to add mass and strength. Meier has good initial burst and above-average ball skills, while Andrews has excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to beat linebackers and safeties with regularity.
The Sooners had the nation’s best tight end class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:
ACC Clemson put together a terrific offensive class in the 2014 cycle, and that includes tight ends. The Tigers signed a pair of ESPN 300 players in No. 195 Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day School) and No. 237 Cannon Smith (Columbia, S.C./Hammond School). The long-armed Richard has the ability to stretch the field without being limited as a route runner, while Smith is quicxly developing physically. He has ability as an in-line blocker who could grow into an offensive lineman at the next level after adding more than 20 pounds to his frame during the past year.
Big Ten Michigan signed only one tight end, but it was a good one in ESPN 300 No. 200 Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central). The 6-foot-6, 223-pounder has strength as a pass-catching tight end with very good hands, and he also can extend his arms and snatch the ball away from his body. While Bunting shows willingness as a blocker, space blocking is his strength. With added bulk and power, his confidence as a blocker should improve.
Pac-12 Stanford also signed only one tight end prospect, but ESPN 300 No. 104 Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) is a perfect fit within the Stanford scheme. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Schultz is one of the top blocking tight ends in the 2014 class and has the frame to add more bulk. He is a solid route runner and can snatch the ball outside his framework. Schultz could be an every-down player.
SEC South Carolina knocked out needs at cornerback and on the defensive front, and the Gamecocks also picked up two tight ends in ESPN 300, No. 143 Kevin Crosby (Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt) and high three-star Kalan Ritchie (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek). They're each a different type of player for Steve Spurrier and his staff. Crosby is a tight end who projects as an H-back, while Ritchie is an in-line blocking prospect who needs time to develop physically and refine his technique.