1-Arthur Lynch, Georgia
2012After taking a redshirt in 2010 and then not catching a pass in 2011, Lynch rebounded with a solid redshirt junior season. A starter in 13 of the 14 games he appeared in, Lynch caught 24 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
In fact, Lynch had just two career catches before last season -- a pair of receptions for 17 yards as a true freshman in 2009. At the end of 2012, Lynch was named Georgia's Most Improved Player.
WHAT HE'S DOING HERE: The former four-star prospect is one of the country's top 10 returning tight ends in 2012 receiving yards. Earlier this month, the Maxwell Football Club placed Lynch on the John Mackey Award watch list.
Lynch and former Clemson recruiting target Jay Rome could form one of the nation's most lethal tight end combinations.
2-Rory Anderson, South Carolina
2012Anderson played in all 13 games, two of which he started [UAB and Tennessee]. He caught a total of 14 passes for 271 yards and five touchdowns.
WHAT HE'S DOING HERE: During his first two seasons at South Carolina, Anderson has emerged as an explosive, downfield threat. He's scored eight touchdowns on 22 receptions and averaged 20.9 yards per reception.
South Carolina's Rory Anderson is right behind Georgia's Artie Lynch in our preseason ranking. (Getty Images)
3-Nick O'Leary, Florida State
2012O'Leary played in all 13 games and started 11 of them en route to having one of the most productive seasons by a tight end at Florida State in quite some time. He caught 21 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. No Seminole tight end had that many receptions and yards since 2006. The three scores are the most since Melvin Pearsall in 1994.
WHAT HE'S DOING HERE: Also a starter as a true freshman in 2011, O'Leary caught 12 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown that season.
Maybe the best blocker of any other tight end on this list, O'Leary adds plenty of versatility to the Florida State offense. He can line up on the line as a more traditional tight end, in the backfield as an H-back and split out wide as a wide receiver.
Honorable Mention-Asa Watson, N.C. State
2012Like Lynch, Watson caught just two passes before breaking out as a redshirt junior. Also like Lynch, Watson took a redshirt after playing during his true freshman season.
Watson caught 24 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown in 2012.
WHAT HE'S DOING HERE: The Rock Hill High School product has NFL bloodlines. His brother, Benjamin Watson, was a first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2004. He's also played for the Brown and is currently with the Saints.
The younger Watson could vault himself onto NFL radars with a big season under new head coach Dave Doeren, who runs a version of the hurry-up, no-huddle offense.