Top tight end likes UT

The top-rated tight end prospect in America lists Tennessee among his top six college options ... at least for now.

Nate Byham, a 6-4, 220-pounder from Franklin (Pa.) Area High School, caught 45 passes for 883 yards last fall, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. Nine of his receptions produced touchdowns. Those numbers have earned him recognition as the nation's top player at his position from

''That was awesome,'' he told's Bob Lichtenfels. ''I was pretty escited about it.''

Byham also stars on defense. As an end/linebacker, he registered 91 tackles last fall -- 15 of them for minus yardage, including 9 sacks. He also intercepted three passes. Despite success on both sides of the ball, Byham is determined to play offense.

''I love playing tight end and I am going to be a tight end in college, he told James Hale of ''I feel that I am a natural tight end, and I think I am a better tight end than a linebacker. It just feels more natural for me to play tight end.''

Byham claims to be ''wide open at this point,'' but conceded he already has 15 scholarship offers.

''USC, Miami, Iowa, Pitt, Tennessee and Oklahoma are probably my top six right now,'' he told Hale. ''Like I said, I am still pretty wide open.''

Forty-five catches is a lot for a tight end, especially a high school tight end. Byham says that's a credit to the system his team uses.

''We run a balanced offense, but we hurry it up,'' he said. ''We go on the quick on every snap so we got a lot of plays in a game, which gives me more opportunities in the passing game.''

In addition to a 4.65 time in the 40, Byham can bench-press 220 pounds and squat 340. His vertical jump has never been tested but he can dunk a basketball from a stand-still position. Byham started for his high school team last winter, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game en route to second-team all-state honors.

Tennessee is always on the look-out for quality tight ends. That's especially true with two tight ends -- Justin Reed and Jake Finlayson -- down to their final year of eligibility in 2005.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories