August 14, 2006

Tight ends a rare weapon for some teams

With college offenses trending toward the spread option, the tight end position often is one that's underutilized.

But the guys who make up the Rivals.com top 10 tight ends for 2006 are hardly overlooked. Many of them are first options for their teams - and they should be. The value targets such as Zach Miller and Greg Olsen provide their offenses is almost immeasurable.

At Missouri, the Tigers have an abundance of riches at tight end. Mizzou is the only school with two tight ends, junior Martin Rucker and sophomore Chase Coffman, amongst our top 20.

Talk about an offense that believes in getting the ball to its tight ends. Rucker and Coffman each had 47 receptions. Together they topped 1,000 yards receiving.

What will happen to their numbers without quarterback Brad Smith pulling the trigger? Will the tight end remain a key target for the Tigers?

Here are the Rivals.com picks for the top tight ends in 2006:

Rivals.com 2006 Preseason Top Tight Ends
1. Zach Miller, Arizona State, Jr., 6-5, 262
The key for the Sun Devils' tight end is staying healthy. Following a season in which he established ASU freshman records for receptions and receiving yardage, Miller had shoulder surgery. He was ready for the season opener, but an ankle sprain against LSU in the second game of the season forced him out of the next three games. Still, Miller posted 38 receptions for 476 yards and four touchdowns. With all-time leading receiver Derek Hagan gone, Miller figures to have plenty of opportunities.
2. Greg Olsen, Miami, Jr., 6-5, 252
The Notre Dame transfer has developed into a dangerous target. He had 451 yards and four touchdowns last season on 31 receptions. Need proof of how important he is to the Hurricanes offense? He didn't have a catch in UM's upset loss to Georgia Tech nor in its embarrassing rout at the hands of LSU in the Peach Bowl. Olsen had at least two receptions in Miami's other 10 games.
3. Joe Newton, Oregon State, Sr., 6-7, 258
There may have been no better news in Corvallis than the fact Newton appears to be healthy this fall. He missed the 2005 season with a strained tendon in his left leg, that after posting a superb junior year of 56 receptions for 687 yards and seven touchdowns. If the Beavers hope to make up for the loss of wide receiver Mike Hass, Newton will be the main target.
4. Fred Davis, USC, Jr., 6-4, 245
Despite his modest numbers last season the Toledo, Ohio, native is poised for a breakout year. He started three games last season and finished with 13 catches for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He figures to take over as the full-time starter, but he'll have to fight a talented group of wide receivers to get his share of passes.
5. Clark Harris, Rutgers, Sr., 6-6, 255
Harris was one of the main contributors to the Scarlet Knights' bowl run. He grabbed 38 receptions for 584 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. A big target with good hands, Harris has made at least one reception in 30 consecutive games. He had one of his best games of the season in the bowl loss to Arizona State with 85 yards and a touchdown on six catches.
Best of the rest
6. Matt Spaeth, Minnesota, Sr., 6-6, 270
7. Jonny Harline, BYU, Sr., 6-4, 240
8. Martin Rucker, Missouri, Jr., 6-5, 245
9. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, So., 6-7, 248
10. Tom Santi, Virginia, Jr., 6-5, 238
11. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss, So., 6-5, 235
12. Chase Coffman, Missouri, So., 6-6, 235
13. Tyler Ecker, Michigan, Sr., 6-6, 247
14. Martrez Milner, Georgia, Sr, 6-4, 255
15. Jake Nordin, Northern Illinois, Sr., 6-3, 262
16. Scott Chandler, Iowa, Sr., 6-7, 257
17. Dan Murray, Connecticut, Sr., 6-5, 229
18. Matt Herian, Nebraska, Sr., 6-5, 245
19. Jermichael Finley, Texas, RFr., 6-5, 220
20. Kory Sperry, Colorado State, Jr. 6-6, 233

More Preseason Player Rankings:
Quarterbacks | Running backs | Offensive linemen | Kickers/Punters | Return Specialists | Wide receivers | Tight ends

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