2012 Mackey Award Watch List: Auburn and Arkansas' TEs Are SEC Favorites

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 10, 2012

Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen
Auburn TE Philip LutzenkirchenKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Watch list week continued on Tuesday, when the Nassau County Sports Commission released the watch list for the 2012 John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's most outstanding tight end in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

LSU's Chase Clement, Arkansas' Chris Gragg, Mississippi State's Malcolm Johnson, Auburn's Philip Lutzenkirchen, Florida's Jordan Reed, Tennessee's Mychal Rivera and Alabama's Michael Williams were the representatives from the SEC on the list.

If you're looking for favorites in the SEC—and possibly the nation—look no further than Lutzenkirchen and Gragg.

Lutzenkirchen enters 2012 as Auburn's third-leading receiver, having caught 24 passes for 238 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Known as one of college football's biggest weapons in the red zone, Lutzenkirchen should see his production as a receiver improve in 2012 with the addition of new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and fullback Jay Prosch.

Lutzenkirchen was pressed into more of a hybrid H-back/tight end role last year after blocking back Eric Smith was dismissed from the team prior to the season. With All-American fullback Prosch now in the mix after transferring from Illinois, Lutzenkirchen will be freed up to make more of an impact as a receiver in 2012.

Gragg got overshadowed in Fayetteville last season behind a stellar wide receiving corps of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Cobi Hamilton. Despite the star-studded lineup at wide receiver, Gragg still managed to catch 41 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns.

With Wright, Adams and Childs gone, Gragg is likely to be one of the top targets for Heisman Trophy candidate Tyler Wilson. The 6'3", 236-pound monster is deceptively fast, has good hands and knows where to find the open spots in the defense.