Individual Position Rankings

As the college football season draws ever closer, we like to take stock of just who is populating our rosters.

Whose name is going to become a buzzword in 2015? Who will be the next big sensation? How many of those sensations are on our team?

To give you a limited sense of where your team’s roster currently stands, here’s a look at the top 10 tight ends in the SEC entering the season.

If your team isn’t represented here, don’t worry. More top 10 lists are still to come.

Others Considered: Jake McGee, Florida; Darryl Long, Kentucky

10. C.J Conrad, Kentucky: Conrad is the only true freshman on our list, but he proved himself to his team throughout spring practice. A four-star recruit, he was the pride of the class and is poised to be the breakout star among the other true freshmen at Kentucky. Coaches and fans fervently hope Conrad can be a solid solution to a lot of Kentucky’s offensive concerns. More pressing: whether Conrad is 100 percent healthy for the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in April.

9. Jerell Adams, South Carolina: Last year, Adams and Rory “Busta” Anderson headed the tight ends for the Gamecocks. Anderson is gone, which means Adams will carry the position. Outside of Pharoh Cooper, Adams will play a large role within the receiving corps for a quarterback who has not been tapped.

8. Sean Culkin, Missouri: The Tigers need experienced pass-catchers. Luckily quarterback Maty Mauk has it in junior Sean Culkin. Culkin had 20 receptions last season for 174 yards, but look for those numbers to go way up in 2015 as Mauk and Culkin continue building their chemistry. While Mauk will have wide receivers he can target, he may rely heavily on Culkin until he feels he can trust them.

7. Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas: Sprinkle will not be the Razorbacks’ No. 1 tight end. But at that position, No. 2 does not feel “less than” at Arkansas (No. 1 is still to come on the list). With much to be desired at wide receiver, it’s up to the tight ends to make up that gap. Sprinkle will have tons of opportunity to improvement upon his 7 receptions for 84 yards from last year.

6. Ethan Wolf, Tennessee: Joshua Dobbs and Ethan Wolf could become a dynamic duo in 2015. Wolf already proved his reception ability last season with 23 catches for 212 yards. Now that both Dobbs and Wolf have more experience and practice time, Wolf could become one of Dobbs’s favorite offensive weapons. Although he has not yet made receptions as big as some of the following tight ends, Wolf is still a reliable receiver and an able-bodied blocker.

5. Jeb Blazevich, Georgia: Blazevich had a fantastic freshman season in 2014 with 18 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns. In 2015, he will continue to be a major part of both Georgia’s passing game and offensive scheme as a whole. While Nick Chubb dominates on the ground, Blazevich will prevent the Bulldogs offense from becoming one-dimensional. The only question mark that surrounds Blazevich’s season is determining his quarterback.

4. O.J. Howard, Alabama: Howard’s numbers from his first two seasons look almost identical: about 15 receptions for around 260 yards. Even his longest reception was almost exactly the same distance. It’s been difficult to distinguish yourself as a wide receiver or tight end in a run-heavy Alabama offense, unless your name is Amari Cooper. That’s changing with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. But with an inexperienced quarterback stepping into the pocket, Howard’s ability will be key to a productive Alabama offense.

3. Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt: If a tight end can rack up 525 receiving yards in a season — the second-most in the SEC in 2014 — and do it without a consistent quarterback, just imagine what he could accomplish with a great one. Of course we can’t rank based on what-ifs, but Scheu could enjoy his best year at Vanderbilt if the program can find a decent quarterback. Scheu is a senior leader, so look to him to rally the team offensively.

2. Hunter Henry, Arkansas: The Razorbacks made a name for themselves with their two-back rushing attack last season. But Henry did a solid job of making sure people didn’t forget about the underappreciated tight ends. He made 37 receptions for 513 yards and two touchdowns last season, and when he wasn’t making catches he was blocking for his running backs. Henry fits perfectly into Bielema’s system. He’ll be looking to secure the title as the best tight end in the conference, if not the nation.

1. Evan Engram, Ole Miss: Widely considered the SEC’s premier tight end, Engram is on the 2015 John Mackey Award watch list and projected to be a first team All-American by Phil Steele. Last year, Engram had the most yards per game and the most total receiving yards for a tight end in the SEC. This year, expect Engram to be bigger, more agile, and more utilized by a quarterback who may not be among the best in the conference. If the throw isn’t perfectly accurate, it’s all good: Engram can use his large hands and catch radius to make a one-handed grab.