Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 10, 2015
The Big Ten East lost some good wideouts with Maryland?s Stefon Diggs, Michigan State?s Tony Lippett and Michigan?s Devin Funchess, among others, all being drafted.
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Tight ends Tyler Kroft (Rutgers), Jesse James (Penn State) and Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State) also heard their names called in the NFL draft.
Still, plenty of talent is back.
Here is a ranking of the Big Ten East receiver/tight end units.
1. Ohio State. The Buckeyes suffered some attrition with receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, along with tight end Jeff Heuerman, gone. In fact, no other part of the Ohio State offense has as many questions. Still, the questions aren?t pressing for wideout coach Zach Smith. Michael Thomas looks more than capable of being a No. 1 option after making 54 grabs last year. Corey Smith also is capable, and versatile Jalin Marshall is one of the Big Ten?s most dynamic players. Dontre Wilson is a burner. Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin are exciting youngsters. Nick Vannett is a physical tight end who can catch.
2. Penn State. Youth was served last season. And this corps of pass catchers-the top four options from 2014 are back–should be better for it. But more big plays are needed. DaeSean Hamilton was a revelation as a freshman, catching a league-high 82 passes. Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall are other talented youngsters. Geno Lewis provides a veteran presence. Penn State has become a tight end factory. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg can look to tight ends Mike Gesicki, Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman to make up for Jesse James turning pro.
3. Michigan State. Tony Lippett, the 2014 Big Ten Receiver of the Year, is gone. Keith Mumphery also has left the building. But some good options loom. Look for Aaron Burbridge and Monty Madaris to become top targets with Macgarrett Kings, Jr. DeAnthony Arnett and AJ Troup also loom, along with Matt Macksood and Tres Barksdale for wideout coach Terrence Samuel. Star quarterback Connor Cook will have a pair of reliable tight ends in Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles.
4. Rutgers. This group received a huge boost when Leonte Carroo eschewed the NFL to return for his senior season. He made 55 catches with 10 TDs last season. There is a drop after Carroo, but Andre Patton looks primed to be a No. 2 man. Janarion Grant and John Tsimis can produce. It hurts that tight end Tyler Kroft turned pro. Nick Arcidiacono is the next man up. Now, who will throw passes to these guys with Gary Nova gone?
5. Michigan. Yes, Devin Funchess bolted early to the NFL. But the Wolverines have some nice young options for receivers coach Jedd Fisch. Start with Jake Butt, who could be a standout tight end. In fact, there is nice depth at tight end, a quarterback?s best friend on third down. We are still waiting on Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh to step up. Freddy Canteen also is back, along with Maurice Ways. But the guy who has everyone in Ann Arbor jacked is true freshman Brian Cole, an early enrollee who impressed in the spring. The new signal-caller must maximize this skill.
6. Indiana. Lots of youth but plenty of potential in the form of players like Dominique Booth and Marqui Hawkins (UAB transfer who committed to Florida out of high school), along with diminutive J-Shun Harris II and Simmie Cobbs, Jr. Harris is a speedy slot man, while the 6-2 Hawkins adds needed size. And keep an eye on Ricky Jones and JC Camion Patrick. They need to step up with Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner gone. At 6-6, 233 pounds, tight end Jordan Fuchs has a nice future. Former walk-on Anthony Corsaro has shown potential at tight end, too. Catching passes from a healthy Nate Sudfeld will make all of these guys better.
7. Maryland. Lots of work to do. Stefon Diggs turned pro and Deon Long departed. Wait, it gets worse. Marcus Leak left the program in May. A big blow. He caught a trio of touchdowns in the spring game and was supposed to be the No. 1 target. Touted Juwann Winfree was expected to replace Leak, but he has been suspended indefinitely. So, who?s left for wideout coach Keenan McCardell? Brothers Levern Jacobs and Taivon Jacobs likely will be the top two options. But who will be the No. 3 man? Will Ulmer and D.J. Moore teem with potential. Amba Etta-Tawo brings a veteran presence. Andrew Isaacs is the top tight end. This corps will be working with a new quarterback, too.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|