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Next Up: Comparing TE recruits to college and NFL stars

Walker Lyons
Walker Lyons

Comparisons are always part of recruiting coverage, so over the next two weeks in our Next Up series we take a look, position-by-position, at who could be one of the next superstars in college football by comparing them to a current college or NFL player.

We move on to tight ends.

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THIS SERIES: Comparing QB recruits to college and NFL stars | RBs | WRs

TE RANKINGS: 2023 | 2024

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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

TRANSFER PORTAL: Stories/coverage | Message board

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Walker Lyons is the next Michael Mayer  

Comparing Lyons to one of the best tight ends in college football – Mayer and Georgia’s Brock Bowers are above the rest in the Power Five – is pretty heady stuff, especially since the Folsom, Calif., standout missed most of his senior season with a knee injury. But the two are very similar in size at the same stage and play in a similar fashion.

Maybe Mayer is a little more filled out physically and maybe Lyons has a little more speed, but they both have excellent hands, they’re both pass-catching tight ends who can also block when needed and there are definitely similar playing styles there.

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Pearce Spurlin is the next Dalton Schultz  

A little more than a year ago, Spurlin was exceptionally lean and one wondered whether he would grow into his frame or be a really lanky pass-catcher. But over time the Georgia commit filled out and is now almost exactly the size as Schultz – not when he was in high school but now as the Dallas Cowboys tight end.

Spurlin reminds us of Schultz at the same stage, though, a huge target with exceptional pass-catching abilities who could move as well. The Santa Rosa Beach (Fla.) South Walton standout is super competitive, very dynamic in the pass game and could have a really bright future ahead in Athens.

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Duce Robinson is the next Darren Waller  

A comparison for Robinson is difficult because he’s such a unique prospect. He's basically a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder with receiver skills and athleticism who’s best splitting out and utilizing his size as a massive mismatch problem for defenders.

In that case, the Waller of 2019 and 2020 – when he was a huge asset for the Raiders in the passing game – is a good comp, especially since it’s so difficult to find players with that size and that fluidity who can also bring in that type of production. Robinson is rare, but the Waller of his glory years seems fitting.

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Mac Markway is the next Payne Durham  

The Purdue tight end who’s having a great season – he’s second on the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns – is about an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Markway, but give the St. Louis De Smet standout some time and he could catch up to Durham.

Markway, who was committed to Florida early in his recruitment and is now pledged to LSU, is not going to run away from many defenders, but he can get open with great route running and play design. He can definitely catch and there’s a physical nature to his game as well at 250 pounds and that should not go unnoticed.

In those ways, he’s very similar to Durham, who was overlooked by many schools across the Southeast during his recruitment as Purdue, Duke and Missouri were the only offers for the Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge standout.

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Ethan Davis is the next Ja’Tavion Sanders  

One of the best-looking tight ends in the 2023 class is Davis, who at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds runs well and catches the ball so easily – and he could probably add a few more pounds and play at 235 pounds. Right now, the Tennessee commit is a little lighter than Sanders and about an inch taller, but their styles are similar.

They’re both athletic, the Texas tight end (who would shine even more coming off the edge for the Longhorns) can make plays and stretch the field, and that’s what we saw from Davis over the summer at the OT7 event in Las Vegas.

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