June 16, 2024
College football's best tight ends of 2023

North Carolina tight end Bryson Nesbit celebrates after catching a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Oregon Wednesday December 28, 2022 at Petco Park. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

It’s a position that requires intelligence and physicality.

Tight ends are the unsung heroes when it comes to the pass catchers. However, they often times have some of the most important responsibilities on offense. Effective blocking on running and passing plays is vital, especially when picking up the blitz on an edge rusher.

Coaches often dial up their tight end’s number to move the chains on third downs. So it’s all about being a safety net, and delivering in the clutch. These 15 individuals have displayed those qualities, and are looking to build off their productive 2022 campaigns this fall.

15. Var’Keyes Gumms, North Texas: The former three-star prospect finished second on the Mean Green in receptions, and touchdowns catches last season. Not to mention Gumms capped off 2022 with first-team, All-C-USA honors. He hauled in three passes for 28 yards, and a touchdown against Texas Southern. The following week Gumms caught a 54-yard touchdown at UNLV. The Houston native had four catches, including a 20-yard touchdown in the victory over Louisiana Tech. Gumms generated a season-high, 92 receiving yards, and a score at UTSA. The six-foot-three, 230-pounder caught a season-high, five passes, including a 10-yard touchdown against Florida International.

14. Luke Lachey, Iowa: Sam LaPorta passed the torch to the Ohio native, and now he’s poised to continue the legacy at ‘Tight End U’ this fall. Last season Lachey ranked first on the team in touchdown catches, and second in receiving yards. He caught four balls for 84 yards and a touchdown against Michigan. The former three-star prospect recorded a six-yard touchdown reception against Northwestern. Lachey hauled in five passes for 77 yards in the win over Minnesota. Not to mention he scored against Nebraska, and his seven catches for 89 yards were both season-highs. Lachey left a lasting impression, with three catches, including a 15-yard touchdown in the bowl victory over Kentucky.

13. Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford: The former four-star prospect finished second on the Farm in receptions last season. Yurosek is arguably the best returning tight end in the conference, and he capped off 2022 with second-team, All-Pac-12 honors. He caught five balls, and had a 50-yard run against USC. The Californian raised some eyebrows after he hauled in a season-high, 10 passes for 78 yards in the victory over Arizona State. Yurosek had five catches, including a 2-yard touchdown at UCLA. Not to mention he recorded eight receptions for a season-high, 90 yards against Washington State. Yurosek even made an impact against rival Stanford, with four catches for 47 yards.

12. Cade Stover, Ohio State: The Ohio native ranked third on the Buckeyes in receptions in 2022. Stover is a converted linebacker, who played the safety net role in Ohio State’s aerial attack, and earned third-team, All-Big Ten honors. He caught three balls for a season-high 83 yards against Toledo. The following week Stover hauled in four passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Wisconsin. Not to mention he had a season-high, six catches for 78 yards and a score in the win at Penn State. The six-foot-four, 255-pounder recorded two touchdown receptions, including a 12-yarder against Indiana. Now Stover is poised to be one of the best tight ends in the Big Ten.

11. Mason Taylor, LSU: As a true freshman in the almighty SEC, he finished third on the team in receptions and receiving yards last season. Taylor got his feet wet in the season-opener against Florida State, with four catches for 34 yards. He caught three balls for 44 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Ole Miss. The following game Taylor helped LSU pull of an upset against Alabama, with three receptions, including a seven-yard touchdown. The Florida native had a season-high, six catches for 63 yards in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Taylor left a lasting impression, with five catches for a season-high, 88 yards and a score in the blowout bowl win over Purdue.

10. Ben Sinnott, Kansas State: Although the Iowa native had no stars behind his name out of high school, he still made his presence felt in the Big 12 last year. Sinnott tied for first on the team in touchdown receptions, and ranked third in receiving yards. He caught four balls for 80 yards against Oklahoma. His seven catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the road victory over Baylor, were all season-highs. The following week Sinnott hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass at West Virginia. In the Big 12 Championship Game against TCU, he recorded a six-yard receiving score. Sinnott caught fire down the stretch, with four touchdowns receptions over the Wildcats’ final five games.

9. Brady Hunt, Ball State: The hometown kid ranked second on the team in receiving yards and touchdown catches last season. Hunt also capped off his stellar campaign with first-team, All-MAC honors. Not too shabby for a guy who played quarterback throughout high school. The former two-star prospect had a 13-yard touchdown catch in the shutout victory over Murray State. Hunt hauled in six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in the win over Northern Illinois. The following week at Central Michigan, he caught a two-yard touchdown. Not to mention recorded an 18-yard touchdown grab Eastern Michigan. Hunt caught nine balls for 90 yards against Ohio, which were both season-highs.

8. Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota: He led the Golden Gophers in receptions, plus finished second in receiving yards and touchdown catches last season. With his six-foot-seven, 270-pound frame, Spann-Ford is a matchup nightmare for defenders. The former three-star prospect hauled in three passes for 64 yards and a score against Western Illinois. Not to mention he caught at least three balls in seven conference games. Spann-Ford generated five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown at Penn State. The Minnesota native recorded 53 receiving yards against Purdue. Spann-Ford had seven catches for 95 yards in the road victory over Wisconsin, which were both season-highs.

7. Seydou Traore, Colorado: The London native led Arkansas State in receptions and receiving yards last season. Traore made himself a household name in the conference. So much so, that he earned first-team, All-Sun Belt honors. He caught a 13-yard touchdown pass in the season-opening victory over Grambling State. The former two-star prospect had six receptions for a season-high, 120 yards and a score at Memphis. The following game at Old Dominion, Traore hauled in seven passes for 81 yards. His eight catches against South Alabama were a season-high. Traore also generated a touchdown grab against Louisiana and Massachusetts. He’ll be a deadly weapon in Colorado’s aerial attack this fall.

6. Bryson Nesbit, North Carolina: The Charlotte native finished third on the Tar Heels in receptions and receiving yards in 2022. Nesbit is a matchup nightmare, who uses his six-foot-five, 255-pound frame to bully defenders and grab passes out of the air. He recorded four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in the season-opener against Florida A&M. The following week he had three grabs, including a 10-yard touchdown at Appalachian State. Nesbit tallied a season-high, 98 receiving yards and a score in the victory over Virginia Tech. Not to mention he generated a season-high, five receptions for 63 yards in the win at Wake Forest. Nesbit caught a 14-yard touchdown in the Holiday Bowl.

5. Caden Prieskorn, Ole Miss: The Michigan native led Memphis in receptions, and tied for first in touchdown catches last season. Prieskorn even capped off 2022 with second-team, All-AAC honors. He got off to a hot start with six touchdown receptions through the Tigers’ first six games. The six-foot-five, 255-pounder hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass in victories over Navy and Temple. Prieskorn caught a nine-yard touchdown in the win over North Texas. his 25-yard touchdown catch against Houston was the longest of the season. Prieskorn recorded six catches for 104 yards against East Carolina, which were both season-highs. He scored in the bowl game against Utah State too.

4. Isaac Rex, BYU: The former three-star prospect has been a Cougar since 2017. Rex has had a very productive career thus far, with a jaw-dropping, 21 touchdown receptions over the past three seasons. Last year he didn’t have as many touches as the previous seasons, but still tied for second on the team in receiving scores. Rex hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass at Oregon. The Californian had a four-yard touchdown catch against Arkansas. The following week at Liberty, Rex recorded a 20-yard touchdown grab. Not to mention he caught a season-high four balls, for 60 yards and a score in the victory over Utah Tech. Rex posted another season-high, two touchdown catches in the win at Stanford.

3. Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas: The former five-star prospect finished second on the Longhorns in receptions and touchdown grabs last season. Sanders also capped off his stellar campaign with first-team, All-Big 12 honors. He uses his six-foot-four, 242-pound frame to maneuver around linebackers, and snag balls over defensive backs. Sanders caught six passes for a season-high, 85 yards and a touchdown in the opening-win over Louisiana-Monroe. The Texas native had five catches for 78 yards and two scores in the victory over West Virginia. The following week against Oklahoma, Sanders hauled in two touchdown passes. Sanders had a season-high, seven receptions against TCU.

2. Oronde Gadsden, Syracuse: The Florida native was a wide receiver early in his career, but switched to tight end prior to last season. Not only did Gadsden dominate at the position in 2022, but he also led the Orange in catches, receiving yards and touchdown grabs. He ranked fifth overall in the ACC in receiving yards. Gadsden caught six balls for for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Purdue. The former three-star prospect recorded a season-high, eight catches for 141 yards and two scores in the win over NC State. Gadsden also went over the century mark in receiving yards against Boston College. Not to mention he caught a touchdown against Louisville and Notre Dame.

1. Brock Bowers, Georgia: It’s mind-boggling that he led the country in yards after catch last season. Bowers is a terror out in the open field, with his athletic prowess. Not only did he win the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end in 2022, but Bowers also earned second-team, AP All-All America honors. He has also been a vital piece in the Bulldogs’ back-to-back National Championship run. Bowers led Georgia in receptions and receiving yards last season. He eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against South Carolina, Florida, and TCU. With Darnell Washington off to the NFL, Bowers production should increase, and that’s a scary thought for defenses around the almighty SEC.