Power Ranking Top 10 TE Recruits in Class of 2015

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystMarch 6, 2014

Power Ranking Top 10 TE Recruits in Class of 2015

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    California prospect Kyle Penniston.
    California prospect Kyle Penniston.Credit: 247Sports

    An evolution at tight end has left coaches searching for athletes who can do much more than block and occasionally catch. Players at the position exhibit a blend of speed and size, adding a dynamic dimension to the passing game.

    Blocking skills remain mandatory, and for many of the top 2015 tight ends, that development remains a major work in progress. College coaches are clamoring for talent at the position, while combing through this recruiting class, and we broke down game tape to get a better indication of prospects to keep tabs on throughout the cycle.

    Our 2015 positional rankings continue with an examination of elite tight ends. We ranked America's 10 most promising prospects, keeping a close eye on their effort at the line of scrimmage and downfield.

    All prospect information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

10. Jackson Harris

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    Size: 6'5", 245 pounds

    School: Columbia Central High School (Columbia, Tenn.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Jackson Harris continued to advance as a prospect but didn't put up numbers in bunches for a team that struggled at times on offense. Columbia Central finished 4-6.

    Scouting Report

    Harris is best suited for jumbo packages in which he serves primarily as a blocker. He will need to grow into that role physically but it seems to be his best route to the field.

    His size is apparent in the passing game, but he doesn't possess substantial quickness or agility. Harris' job is to own real estate within 15 yards of the line and present a big target for his quarterback.

    His hands look reliable in limited high school looks. Harris could ultimately blossom as a dependable target in the passing game at the next level if downfield opportunities increase.

    Recruitment Status

    Harris earned an Alabama offer earlier this month while attending a junior day in Tuscaloosa. Vanderbilt is a strong in-state option, while Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Kentucky are also involved.

9. John Carroll

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    Size: 6'3", 210 pounds

    School: St. Francis High School (La Canada, Calif.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    John Carroll provided the Golden Knights with a reliable offensive threat throughout a junior campaign that lasted deep into the Southern California postseason. He caught 49 passes for 694 yards and seven touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

    Scouting Report

    Carroll can do serious damage out of the slot. He attacks the seam with top-level quickness that enables him to get beyond linebackers in coverage.

    His routes are well-timed and effective, often taking him 20-30 yards downfield. Carroll is elusive enough to evade tacklers and pick up significant yards after the catch.

    At this point, he is primarily a receiving asset in any offense, limiting his opportunities until he develops physically to take on an expanded role as a blocker. His frame simply isn't large enough to handle every-down duties in the foreseeable future.

    Carroll can be counted on as a capable pass target in two tight end sets during the early stages of his collegiate career.

    Recruitment Status

    Carroll doesn't currently hold high-level FBS offers, but Oregon, California, Missouri and Arizona have shown significant interest. He's a late riser in this recruiting class so look for him to become a hot commodity as signing day approaches.

8. Jordan Davis

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    Size: 6'3.5", 247 pounds

    School: Clear Lake High School (Houston, Texas)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Jordan Davis established career highs across the board during a 6-4 campaign. He led the Falcons with 39 receptions for 558 yards and five touchdowns.

    Scouting Report

    Davis doesn't have many gears but he presents a downfield threat on the outside. He can line up wide and force the defense to react to his presence with modified coverage that's likely to leave his team with a favorable matchup.

    A lack of acceleration will prevent Davis from burning defensive backs, but he's athletic enough to fight for the football on long-distance routes. He hasn't spent much time in a 3-point stance, so his blocking skills are a relatively unknown commodity.

    Recruitment Status

    Texas A&M landed a commitment from the in-state target last summer. He initially pledged to Florida State as a sophomore. Davis added an offer from Auburn in February.

7. Kyle Penniston

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    Size: 6'5", 220 pounds

    School: Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    The Monarchs passing attack averaged less than 150 yards per game, with Kyle Penniston finishing fifth in receptions (11) for 131 yards and a touchdown, per MaxPreps. He also helped pave the way for a potent rushing attack during an 11-win season at the Southern California powerhouse.

    Scouting Report

    Penniston is a consistent threat in the flat, providing an excellent check-down option for his passer. He won't run past defenders but displays quality footwork and route-running technique to find space.

    His best work occurs in the rushing attack, where he routinely seals off the edge and gets to the second level as a lead blocker. He'll need to bulk up in college and may take some time to reach the field, but there's plenty of promise for this balanced prospect.

    Recruitment Status

    Penniston pledged to Wisconsin in February, weeks after receiving an offer from the Badgers at a junior day. Florida State, Miami and Louisville are among teams that have also shown interest.

6. Will Gragg

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    Size: 6'4", 245 pounds

    School: Pine Bluff High School (Pine Bluff, Ark.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Will Gragg helped the Zebras advance to a second straight state championship game. He led a run-heavy offense in receiving with 31 catches for 321 yards and five touchdowns, per Hootens.com.

    Scouting Report

    Gragg doesn't have a whole lot of wiggle in the open field, but he beats coverage with physicality on a consistent basis. His ability to box out defenders in short-yardage passing situations makes him a go-to red-zone target.

    He takes reps both split out wide and lined up with his hand in the dirt. Gragg is an evolving blocker who bludgeons opponents with raw strength but still requires refinement in hand placement and technique.

    His quickness is enough to keep linebackers on their heels.

    He is the brother of 2013 Buffalo Bills draft pick Chris Gragg, who converted from wide receiver to tight end during his college career at Arkansas.

    Recruitment Status

    Arkansas views Gragg as a primary in-state target and hosted him for a junior day this month. Ole Miss and Alabama provide the Razorbacks' biggest challengers, though his recent offers include Texas, Oregon and Auburn.

5. Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

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    Size: 6'6", 235 pounds

    School: Canisius High School (Manlius, N.Y.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Tyrone Wheatley Jr. contributed to a state championship journey on both sides of the ball. He caught 16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, adding 41 tackles and two sacks on defense.

    Scouting Report

    Wheatley is a mammoth prospect who also impresses at defensive end. He has excellent short-area speed and doesn't take long to get off the line, despite a large frame.

    He attacks the football at it's highest point and is an absolute load for defenders to bring down. As a blocker, Wheatley delivers punishing burst and will become more dominant with improved initial steps.

    He is the son of former Michigan star and NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley, who currently coaches with the Buffalo Bills.

    Recruitment Status

    Wheatley is arguably the top prospect in New York so it's no surprise Syracuse is pressing hard for his commitment. Michigan is a leader, due to his personal ties to the program, while Penn State and Alabama are also in the mix.

4. Jalen Wilkerson

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Size: 6'4", 227 pounds

    School: Coffee High School (Douglas, Ga.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Jalen Wilkerson suffered a scare in October, when he was airlifted off the field by a helicopter, due to concerns about a neck injury, according to The Florida Times-Union. He quickly returned to the field and was named First-Team All-Region.

    Scouting Report

    Wilkerson is a physical force in every facet of the game. He pairs freakish strength with above-average athleticism at the position.

    After Wilkerson hauls in the football, he heads forward with head full of steam. Powerful strides make it difficult for one defender to halt his progress in the open field.

    He adjusts well when his quarterback is under duress and finds a spot to set up shop, presenting an easily identifiable target. Wilkerson could contribute out of the backfield as an H-back in college.

    Recruitment Status

    He earned offers from Florida State and Auburn last month, already taking the time to visit both campuses since then. Alabama, LSU and Michigan are also in the mix.

3. Devonaire Clarington

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    Size: 6'6", 222 pounds

    School: Champagnat Catholic High School (Hialeah, Fla.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Devonaire Clarington dominated opponents during a run to the state title. He led the Lions with 46 receptions for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns.

    Scouting Report

    Clarington is probably the most explosive receiver on this list. He bursts off the line and gets to the second level with excellent speed.

    His hands are impressive and he displays a strong reach in all directions to snare the tough pass attempts. Clarington commands expansive defensive attention in the red zone, creating options for teammates.

    He isn't a dominant blocker but based on his athleticism, college coaches are more likely to use him off the line as a target and decoy in the passing attack.

    Recruitment Status

    Miami is a heavy favorite to sign the local prospect, and the Hurricanes have hosted him several times. Clarington is also considering offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, among others.

2. Aliz'e Jones

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    Size: 6'4", 222 pounds

    School: Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, Nev.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Aliz'e Jones was highly productive for a national powerhouse program, hauling 35 passes for 571 yards—both career-best totals. He caught 10 touchdowns for the state champions.

    Scouting Report

    Jones exploits the seam with quickness off the snap. He displays quality route-running technique but could come out of breaks with more burst.

    He presents serious matchup issues from an athletic standpoint. Jones overpowers defensive backs and can dart past most linebackers.

    His footwork along the sidelines is impressive. Jones is far more advanced as a receiver than a blocker right now, but will continue to grow in both capacities before he arrives on campus in 2015.

    Recruitment Status

    He bolstered UCLA's recruiting class by committing to the Bruins in November. If he chooses to explore other options, Notre Dame, Nebraska, USC and Tennessee are possibilities.

1. Chris Clark

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    Size: 6'6", 247 pounds

    School: Avon Old Farms High School (Avon, Conn.)

    Junior Season Highlights

    Chris Clark is the most balanced tight end recruit in the country, landing him atop these rankings. He caught 39 passes for 417 yards and six touchdowns.

    Scouting Report

    There isn't a sign of hesitation in the way Clark conducts himself on the field. He's a ferocious route-runner who attacks defenders with a bullish running style.

    Clark catches everything thrown his way and immediately aims to maximize the possession by pushing for extra yardage. He looks smooth in the flat and can fly downfield for deep patterns.

    His blocking skills ultimately separate him from the pack. Clark connects off the snap with excellent technique and stays engaged through the whistle.

    Recruitment Status

    He's the center of attention for several Big Ten squads, including Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State and Michigan. Alabama, Auburn and Notre Dame are also in the hunt.