Last season was a bumper crop for tight ends in the Southeastern Conference. Dawson Knox, Foster Moreau, Isaac Nauta, Jace Sternberger and Irv Smith Jr. all were taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. In addition other players like C.J. Conrad signed as a free agent. While those players have moved on there are still a number of quality players in the league. With that in mind let’s take a look at the SEC’s Top Tight Ends.
SEC’s Top Tight Ends
5. Dominick Wood-Anderson– Tennessee- The nation’s number one ranked junior college tight end struggled at times last season. However he really wasn’t used to his potential either. Under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney look for a big jump from his totals of 17 catches for 140 yards and two scores.
4. Octavious Cooley– Ole Miss- Cooley has spent most of his career backing up first Evan Engram and then Dawson Knox. However he averaged 21 yards per catch and a touchdown. With not only Knox gone but D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as well Cooley has the opportunity to be the go to guy especially in the red zone for new quarterback Matt Corral.
3. CJ O’Grady– Arkansas- As a junior O’Grady didn’t register a reception until the season’s fifth game. However once he got rolling he did so in a big way. He finished with 30 catches for 400 yards and six touchdowns. In addition he hauled in two scores against both LSU and Alabama, showing he can play against tough defenses. If there is a drawback to O’Grady it’s that he may be competing for catches with true freshman Hudson Henry.
Now that we’ve gone through the first three players of our countdown of the SEC’s Top Tight Ends let’s look at the two players generally regarded as the best in the league.
The Best of the Best
2. Jared Pinkney– Vanderbilt– Pinkney led all tight ends in both catches and receiving yards last season with 50 and 774 respectively. In addition he hauled in seven touchdowns. Vandy will have a new man under center in 2019 as Kyle Shurmur graduated. However it shouldn’t take long for Pinkney to mesh with likely starter Riley Neal.
1. Albert Okwuegbunam– Despite missing four games last season Albert O still managed 43 receptions for 466 yards and six touchdowns. Much like Vandy the Tigers have a new man at center in former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant. Assuming he stays healthy look for a big season from the likely top 20 pick in next year’s draft.
Five More To Watch
In alphabetical order these players are all likely to have big seasons but just missed our top five.
Baylor Cupp- Texas A&M- The heir apparent to Sternberger down in College Station. The number one ranked tight end coming out of high school has the potential to have a big impact in 2019.
Miller Forristall– Alabama– After missing most of of 2017 to a knee injury Forristall played sparingly last season. However look for him to be a big part of the offense for the Tide.
Hudson Henry- Arkansas- Older brother Hunter moved on to the Los Angeles Chargers after almost 1,700 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in Fayetteville. As mentioned earlier the fourth rated tight end in the 2019 class may take some looks away from O’Grady.
Kiel Pollard– South Carolina– Jake Bentley didn’t throw much to the tight ends last season. However when he did Pollard was the man. Looking for big improvements over 15 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Charlie Woerner– Georgia– With Nauta gone look for the senior to have a much more expanded role. He should at least equal his career numbers of 25 catches for 298 yards this season.
Thanks for checking out our look at the SEC’s Top Tight Ends here at Last Word On College Football. Over the next couple of weeks we have previews of every position in the SEC. First on that list was the corners. In addition look for coverage of Media Days as we get you ready for the 2019 season.