With many high powered, high flying, pass happy offenses, the tight end position can often be overlooked. The Pac-12 has a bevy of talented pass-catchers off the line of scrimmage. As the new season draws ever closer, let us look at what players from the said position are primed to impress.
1) Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, So., Washington
The Huskies have something special in their young tight end. Sefarian-Jenkins was spectacular as a freshman catching 41 passes and scoring six touchdowns. The Fox Island Washington product started every game for the Huskies and deservedly so. Earning honorable mention all Pac-12 in 2011, this year, the sophomore could easily be first team All-Pac-12 when it is said and done. If UW quarterback Keith Price is going to make a run for Heisman consideration, it will be in large part because of the saftey net provided by the 6’6″ 258 lb Sefarian-Jenkins.
2) Joseph Fauria, Sr., UCLA
After a stint with Notre Dame, the 6’7″ Fauria transfered closer to home to be a Bruin. The Encino Calif0rnia recruit saw limited action in his first eligble year at UCLA. However, in 2011, Fauria displayed elite ability in the passing game. A six touchdown total by Fauria last year was the most by a Bruins receiver since 2005. What makes the 39 receptions for 481 yards all the more impressive is the fact that UCLA had the 81st best passing attack in the FBS. Whoever ends up starting at quarterback for Jim Mora’s squad, will have an excellent target.
3) Zach Ertz, Jr., Stanford
Ertz missed time last year because of injury, but when available, provided Andrew Luck with an appealing option downfield. During his sophomore year, Ertz averaged just a shade under 13 yards a reception. What makes Ertz even more impressive is his 27 receptions and four touchdowns all the while sharing targets with Colby Fleener (now in the NFL) and Levine Toilolo (who we will get to in a moment). Assuming Ertz can rebound from the knee injury that sidelined him, he should be poised to help the program adjust to life without Andrew Luck..
4) Levine Toilolo, Jr., Stanford
Stanford has two top five tight end talents in-conference. Because one must be ranked ahead of the other for this forum, a tie will not suffice. Ertz gets the slight edge. Not to be outdone is teammate Levine Toilolo. One of the top tight end prospects in the nation out of La Mesa California, Toilolo has an impressive frame standing at 6’8″ and weighing in at 265 lbs. A terrific sophomore year saw six touchdowns and an average of 13.7 yards a reception. When asked to pick up production after Ertz’s injury, Toilolo did so admirably.
5) Randall Telfer, So., USC
The search for a tight end to round the top five becomes fairly difficult with several names deserving recognition. Telfer gets the final spot on the list because of his ability to show an adeptness at the college level so early. Much like Sefarian-Jenkins, Telfer had a solid freshman year. Telfer’s rookie campaign was not quite as productive as the UW pass-catcher but it is certainly noteworthy. Racking up 273 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, the sophomore will be a challenge for Pac-12 defenses to contain especially Matt Barkley seeking him out. A small caveat, Telfer shared time at the positoin with fellow sophomore Xavier Grimble. The duo will give opposing defenses nightmares in the coming months.