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Five thoughts on the 2023 tight end class

Duce Robinson
Duce Robinson (Jeff McCulloch/Rivals.com)

High school seasons are halfway done or more, so this is a good time to take a look at some things happening across the country. Today, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney gives five thoughts on the 2023 tight ends:

MORE: Five thoughts on the 2023 QBs | RBs | WRs

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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

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IS ROBINSON NO. 1 FOR SURE?

Duce Robinson has every characteristic necessary to be the No. 1 tight end in the 2023 class and a potential five-star candidate by the end of this recruiting cycle.

The Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle standout is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, looks like an Adonis in person, runs routes like a receiver, has great hands and so far this season has 19 catches for 426 yards and six touchdowns so he can stretch the field no problem.

It looks like he’s a near-lock to stay as the No. 1 tight end in the class but if there’s one prevailing storyline with this group it’s that question marks abound from top to bottom. Many of them have injuries, some won’t be back all season and so over time maybe someone could eclipse him. But it’s unlikely with so many of the top ones out.

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SPURLIN COULD COME BACK BETTER THAN EVER

The one name that really has caught my attention, though, is Pearce Spurlin even though he hasn’t played this season after offseason shoulder surgery.

The Georgia commit is back to training every day and running routes and getting ready but maybe most importantly is that he’s added much-needed weight to his frame and he’s now 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds.

Two summers ago, the Santa Rosa Beach (Fla.) South Walton prospect was at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge in Atlanta and was phenomenal but he was also incredibly lean. Over time, Spurlin has reshaped his body and now Georgia might have its next superstar tight end in place.

The Bulldogs are also in the running for Robinson so that tandem would be deadly especially while also throwing high three-star Lawson Luckie in the mix.

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INJURIES TAKE OUT TIGHT ENDS

Walker Lyons
Walker Lyons (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Spurlin has yet to see the field in his senior season. Four-star Walker Lyons from Folsom, Calif., injured his knee early in the season. Tennessee pledge Ethan Davis, who looked awesome this summer, is out with a labrum injury. Texas commit Will Randle has been hobbled with a knee. Stanford pledge Jaden Platt was injured early on and then suffered a concussion so he’s played only two games.

All these injuries muddy up how things could or should play out in rankings since so many talented tight ends aren’t going to see the field this season at all. It makes things tougher but also gives others an opportunity to step up and make something happen as well.

There are plenty of three-stars who are outplaying their ranking and should get more credit.

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THREE-STARS EMERGING

Javonte Vereen
Javonte Vereen (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There are a bunch of three-stars who are putting up big seasons and that should not go unnoticed. It should also serve warning to some four-stars in front of them that no ranking is guaranteed.

It starts with Nebraska commit Benjamin Brahmer who already has 38 catches for 706 yards and nine touchdowns. NC State commit Javonte Vereen and Penn State pledge Joey Schlaffer are also off to excellent seasons as an argument to move up can certainly be made by all three.

Two others to watch are Baylor commit Hawkins Polley, who has six TDs on 16 catches, and Kentucky commit Tanner Lemaster, who has seven scores on 25 receptions so far.

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JOHNSON AN INTRIGUING PROSPECT

There might not be a more intriguing tight end prospect than Louisville commit Jamari Johnson, who at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds is surprisingly nimble and fast on the field but looks like he could also play defensive tackle really well.

That’s not a knock on the Inglewood, Calif., prospect at all but his frame is one where he won’t get pushed around by defensive backs or linebackers and his playmaking ability is among some of the best in this class.

So far this season, Johnson has helped his team to an undefeated season and he has 587 receiving yards and seven scores. A deep playoff run could easily push him over 1,000 receiving yards and that will not go unnoticed for the Louisville pledge who recently added a new Alabama offer.

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