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Pac-12 preview: Tight end rankings

No returning tight end in the Pac-12 nabbed more than 22 receptions last season, which means plenty of teams are experiencing significant turnover at the position.

To download this week's edition of the 'Sun Devil Source Report' podcast and listen to our 'Pac-12 Preview: Wide receivers and tight ends' episode, click here.

As the spring comes to a close and the summer arrives, SunDevilSource will provide broader context for our Arizona State player capsules and player preparedness and potential grades by embarking on a podcast series that compares the Sun Devils' depth at various position groups to the rest of the teams around the Pac-12 conference.

Each week, SunDevilSource analysts Chris Karpman and Kerry Crowley will review position groups for each Pac-12 team, and draft the players from those groups in order of which players they would most like to have on their own hypothetical rosters. In each podcast, Chris and Kerry trade off picks in an effort to build the deepest team. 

After releasing their wide receiver rankings earlier this week, the next installment of the series features SunDevilSource's tight end unit rankings. With most teams in the conference experiencing significant turnover at the position, there's plenty of opportunities for tight ends like ASU's Jay Jay Wilson to establish themselves this fall.  

Tight ends

1. USC-- After earning the top spot in our quarterback and running back rankings, the Trojans return to the pole position thanks to the presence of Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe, who combined to catch 27 passes last season. Petite will likely begin the season as the Trojans' top option, but both players are strong blockers and good enough pass-catchers to help make a considerable impact in Clay Helton's offense. Because the Trojans lose quite a bit of firepower at the wide receiver position, Petite and Imatorbhebhe could see an increase in the number of targets they each receive this fall.

2. Utah-- Like USC, Utah boasts a strong pair of tight ends that places the Utes near the top of our Pac-12 rankings. Evan Moeai is back after hauling in 22 passes for 308 yards last season while Harrison Handley gives the Utes one of the best one-two punches in the conference. After Utah lost four offensive linemen to the NFL this offseason, the Utes will call on Moeai and Handley to help pave the way on the ground for the Utes' rushing attack.

3. Stanford-- The Cardinal have enjoyed a great stretch of producing NFL-caliber talent at the tight end position, and Dalton Schultz looks like he has the potential to continue the program's run of success. At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Schultz was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honoree last season and one of the most consistent players on Stanford's offense. A consensus four-star recruit coming out of high school, Schultz has the potential to play at the next level.

4. Washington-- The Huskies lose Darrell Daniels, but the program returns 2016 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention honoree Drew Sample who started 11 games last season. A smart player who caught nine passes for 106 yards last season, Sample is a physical blocker and one of the best in-line tight ends in the conference. Aside from having Sample in the fold, coach Chris Petersen signed Hunter Bryant, the No. 2 tight end in the country in the Class of 2017.

5. Arizona State-- For the first time since 2013, the Sun Devils will start a player not named Kody Kohl at the tight end position. After a three-year run as ASU's top tight end, Kohl moves on and the athletic Jay Jay Wilson is poised to step into the spotlight in a tight-end friendly offense led by new coordinator Billy Napier. Wilson has All-Pac-12-caliber potential, and if he plays with consistency this season, there's no reason he can't be one of the top receiving threats at the position in the conference. Wilson will be backed up by Thomas Hudson, a big-bodied in-line blocker who came on strong this spring.

6. UCLA-- It will be interesting to see how the shift from Kennedy Polamalu to Jedd Fisch impacts the way the Bruins use their tight ends in their scheme. Though UCLA loses All-Conference honoree Nate Iese, Iese's backup Austin Roberts is prepared to take on a larger role after posting 15 receptions for 261 yards a season ago. Roberts was the No. 196 prospect in the country in the Class of 2014, and like Wilson, he has the potential for a breakout season.

7. Arizona-- Perhaps the final team in the conference that returns a true tight end with extensive experience, Arizona enlists the services of Scottsdale, Arizona native Trevor Wood at the position. Wood is athletic at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, and the son of Dave Wood, who spent two seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Wood caught seven passes for 49 yards last season, but is capable of giving the Wildcats' offense more production in 2017.

8. Oregon State--Oregon State doesn't return much in terms of experience at the tight end position, but the Beavers do have a slew of young players competing for opportunities in 2017. Junior Noah Togiai has five career starts at the position and caught four passes last season, but his campaign was derailed by a serious knee injury he suffered in September. Togiai will battle with three redshirt freshmen including Tuli Wily-Matagi for the right to keep the starting job. 

9. Colorado-- Colorado's top returning player at the tight end position is George Frazier, who is actually listed as a fullback but plays tight end in some of the Buffaloes' offensive sets. Though Frazier isn't a receiving threat at the position, he's a sound blocker and an excellent leader who has already been named a team captain for the second straight season. Frazier is complemented by Dylan Keeney, who caught one pass for eight yards last season.

10. Cal-- Under former head coach Sonny Dykes, the Bears didn't use a tight end in a traditional manner, but instead used 5-foot-11, 300-pound Malik McMorris as a fullback. The transition to new offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin will surely change how the Bears deploy their tight ends, but McMorris was fun to watch and effective in his old role. Baldwin's presence could lead the way for J.D. Hinnant and Kyle Wells to take on larger roles. 

11. Oregon-- The cupboard is bare for the Ducks at the tight end position, as Oregon loses Pharaoh Brown, Johnny Mundt, and Evan Baylis, the top three players from its 2016 unit. The Ducks will likely call upon either Jacob Breeland or Cam McCormick to step into a starting role, but Oregon is essentially starting from scratch.

12. Washington State-- The folks in Pullman actually don't know what a tight end is. Head coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense does not use tight ends, and therefore, the Cougars' roster does not include any tight ends. Had Washington State been listed 11th in our rankings, it would have been a very bad sign for another team. 


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