Five thoughts on the 2023 TE class
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney continues his position-by-position glance of the 2023 recruiting scene with five thoughts on the tight end position.
ROBINSON AT THE TOP
Duce Robinson does not do a lot of events so it was incredibly valuable to see him running routes at the Elite 11 for high school and college quarterbacks and it reinforced he’s the best tight end in the class.
The Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle standout remains under five-star consideration watch and he’s more of a big receiver than a lumbering tight end. What I liked most about him at Elite 11 is that he was there to work for three-straight days, took so many reps it was incredible and never seemed to tire.
USC might have the edge in his recruitment now with Texas, Alabama and Georgia still in it. A commitment is not expected soon since his baseball schedule has kept him busy this offseason. The two-sport athlete is special and while he did have a couple drops throughout the event, Robinson is so talented that I’m happy with him at No. 1.
SPURLIN COULD BE OUTSTANDING
The concern last summer with Pearce Spurlin was that he was so skinny and it looked like his frame couldn’t fill out all that much. One year later and the Georgia commit is 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, a perfect size for an SEC tight end who could make an impact in an offense that loves throwing to that position now.
Brock Bowers, who’s a few inches shorter than Spurlin, led Georgia by far in every receiving category last season. But Darnell Washington, who is by far the better physical specimen, wasn’t used as much. Spurlin has the speed and playmaking ability - and excellent hands - to be a massive target in Georgia’s passing attack.
His weight is no longer an issue at all.
HOWARD MOVING TO D-END
Right now, Jaxon Howard is ranked as the fifth-best tight end in the 2023 class but that’s going to change. Not because we don’t think he’s super talented but because LSU is bringing him in to play defensive end first.
His current ranking speaks to how much we like the New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Cooper as not only a tight end but an athlete and coming off the edge and getting into the backfield, Howard could be special.
The four-star is aggressive, sudden, plays with an attacking mentality and has elite athleticism - whether at tight end or defensive end - to make things happen. LSU is loading up with top defensive ends in recent weeks and Howard might be the best of the bunch right now.
DAVIS COULD BE A STAR
I was really impressed by Ethan Davis at the OT7 event in Las Vegas not only from a physical standpoint but also from a production one as he could make a move up in the tight end rankings during the next release. The top of the group is really good as it’s a loaded year at the position but Davis needs to be in that discussion.
The multi-sport star has a big frame, he’s filled out, he moves so well, he can box out defenders for the ball and the Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill standout is excellent at stretching the field. After some programs tried to flip him from Tennessee, the Vols commit said he’s done with recruiting. He talks to five-star QB commit Nico Iamaleava most days and coach Josh Heupel is getting a huge weapon in the passing game.
THREE PROGRAMS WITH THREE TE COMMITS
When Riley Williams committed to Miami over Alabama and Ohio State a few days ago, I received some questions about why a top-notch tight end would pick a program with two tight ends - Reid Mikeska and Jackson Carver - already committed. It’s far more prevalent in this recruiting class than I first imagined and Williams is the best of that bunch anyway. He could even be higher in the position rankings but he just hasn’t done any national events to get an in-person evaluation on him.
Arkansas has three tight end pledges as well with Luke Hasz, Jaden Hamm and Shamar Easter and the first two commitments in the Razorbacks’ class came from Easter and Hamm. Penn State also has three in Andrew Rappleyea, Mathias Barnwell and Joey Schlaffer.
I don’t know if all this means tight ends don’t mind being in the same recruiting class, at least at those programs, or if there are a lot of tight end decommitments coming as everyone figures out what’s best for them, but it sure seems odd.