Clemson's tight end trend

CLEMSON - It wasn't all that long ago when the tight end position was largely irrelevant at Clemson.

From Michael Palmer to Dwayne Allen and now Brandon Ford, there's been a nice run of tight ends to suit up for Clemson over the last four years.

As a senior in 2009, Palmer rewrote a number of the Tigers' single-season records by a tight end, catching 43 passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns.

He's now in his third season with Atlanta Falcons.

With a little help from first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Allen made his assault on Palmer's records in 2011. Allen caught 50 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns en route to winning the Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end.

This spring, he was a third-round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts.

Through six games in 2012, Ford is off to an impressive start. He's hauled in 20 catches for 234 yards and four touchdowns.

Earlier this week, Ford was named one of 25 finalists for the Mackey Award.

Ford told CUTigers on Tuesday that the run on productive tight ends won't end after this season.

"This offense is built -- kind of -- off the 3-back position…I'm pretty sure coach [Chad] Morris is going to be here for a long time, so the guys behind me and the guys coming in are going to have the same chance," Ford said. "It's just been fun playing this position. It's, obviously, a physical position. You get matched up on guys that cannot cover you.

"It just goes to show that coach Morris is all about putting the best 11 one-on-one matchups out there."

Ford thinks freshman Jay Jay McCullough, who's redshirting this year, is the right kind of a player for Morris' offense.

"Similar to Dwayne, very similar, I'd say more athletic. He's young, faster. He's going to be a great player," Ford said. "He weighs about 230 now. In about three year's he'll be 260. He's a big guy that can run, can move, a guy kind of like Antonio Gates. He's looking real good."

He also gave favorable comparisons to his two backups.

"Stanton Seckinger, once he gets the weight on, he'll be close to Jimmy Graham. He's not as tall, but he'll be close to him," Ford said. "Sam Cooper is a guy that's a lot like Mike Palmer, but might be more athletic."

Clemson has commitments from a pair of tight ends.

Three-star Jordan Leggett is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 45 tight end in the class of 2013. Cannon Smith, another three-star, is the No. 8 tight end in the class of 2014.

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