Written By: Ryan Lippert|@Lippert42
As we enter the month of August, things are finally starting to clear up and it looks like we will likely have some form of a college football season starting in September. With that in mind, the lists in this new series that I have begun highlighting the top five returning players by position will be able to be put to the test. To kick off week four of this series, I will wrap up the offensive skill players. With that being said, here are my top five returning tight ends in what looks to be a very deep group heading into the 2020 college football season.
1. Pat Freiermuth - Penn State
At the top of this list, I have the man that many experts are calling “Baby Gronk.” Besides the fact that he wears the number 87, Pat Freiermuth has lived up to this nickname by showing he is the most complete tight end in college football. He has a solid 6’5”, 256-pound frame and is a very dangerous vertical threat down the seams with reliable hands. Freiermuth has also shown that he can be counted on in the run game as a blocker. As a true sophomore in 2019, he finished with 43 receptions for 507 yards and seven touchdowns. These numbers earned him Second Team All-Big Ten honors from the Associated Press. With a solid 2020 campaign, Freiermuth will likely enter the 2021 NFL Draft and have a strong case to be the first tight end selected.
2. Kyle Pitts - Florida
Next up in this list is arguably the best receiving threat out of this group. Pitts was a big part of Florida’s offense in 2019 as he can line up all over the formation. He runs routes like a receiver, has great hands, and has the speed to get upfield to pick up yards after the catch. His only downfall is his slim frame which can leave him at a disadvantage at times as a blocker. He finished the 2019 season with 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns, earning him First Team All-SEC recognition. With Kyle Trask returning at quarterback, Pitts looks to be on his way to another solid season in 2020 which could help push him to TE1 in next year’s draft class.
3. Brevin Jordan - Miami (FL)
It was a very tough decision between Pitts and Jordan for the second spot on this list. Jordan has the talent to be higher on this list but has unfortunately been a victim of poor quarterback play. He is a very good athlete that is used all over the formation with the ability to pose as a dangerous vertical threat and break tackles in the open field after the catch. Jordan has also shown signs of improvement as a blocker. As a sophomore, Jordan finished with 35 receptions for 495 yards and two touchdowns. His performance earned him recognition as a Mackey Award finalist as well as First-Team All-ACC honors. If he can establish an early connection with transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, Jordan could very easily find his way at the top of this list and as a high draft pick in 2021.
4. Charlie Kolar - Iowa State
At the fourth spot on this list, I have a big-bodied tight end that had an impressive 2019 season. Kolar does a great job of using his 6’6”, 257-pound frame and solid athleticism to his advantage. He has a very impressive catch radius and strong hands which helps him both as a vertical threat down the seam and in the red zone. He can also use his length to his advantage as a blocker. Kolar finished his sophomore season for the Cyclones with 51 receptions for 697 yards and seven touchdowns. These numbers earned him recognition as a Mackey Award finalist as well as Third Team All-American by the Associated Press and First Team All-Big 12 honors. If he can keep his great connection with quarterback Brock Purdy going, Kolar should be due for another huge year in 2020 and be able to leave early for the 2021 NFL Draft.
5. Brant Kuithe - Utah
To wrap up this list, I have a talented receiving threat out of Utah. Kuithe is a smooth route runner who uses his impressive speed to his advantage to get up the field in a hurry. He shows solid effort as a blocker but will need to show that he can handle in-line duties as he was mainly used on pull blocks and as an extra blocker in space. As a true sophomore, Kuithe caught 34 passes for 602 yards and six touchdowns. This performance earned him Second Team All-Pac 12 honors. While he isn’t discussed quite as much as the top four tight ends on this list, a strong junior season could very easily put Kuithe in the 2021 NFL Draft discussion.
Honorable Mention: Matt Bushman (BYU), Jalen Wydermeyer (Texas A&M), Tony Poljan (Virginia), Noah Gray (Duke), Hunter Long (Boston College), Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin), Cade Otton (Washington)