Tight Ends in Butch Jones offense tend to go overlooked. They don't get a ton of opportunities to catch the ball and are used primarily as blockers. Most of the catches go to the Wide Receivers, or even the running backs. In his three years at Central Michigan just one TE managed to collect double digit receptions (David Blackburn with 12 in 2009). For comparisons sake in Brian Kelly's three season TE's recorded double digit receptions 6 times in three seasons including three in 2009 alone. The staff really struggled to find a way to get Ben Guidugli into the game early in the year as he had just 4 receptions in the first three games. After sitting out the Oklahoma game Ben registered 20 catches in the final 8 games. That bodes well because this is a pretty deep and talented group of TE's in 2011.
88 - Adrien Robinson
The biggest, strongest most athletic guy in the bunch. He made Bruce Feldman's annual freaks list in 2009. He has all the athletic ability in the world, but he has never quite been able to put it all together on the field. Unquestionably his finest game came against UConn in 2009 when he hauled in 2 balls for 74 yards including the memorable tip drill snag at the end of the 1st half. I think he will wind up winning the job, but he will have some big time competition.
18 - Travis Kelce
Back after a year long suspension for academics Kelce is going to push Robinson hard for the starting job. I said that Robinson is the most athletic of the TE's this season and I will stand by that. But Travis Kelce is a very close second. He was a QB in high school, and started out there at UC before Brian Kelly moved him to TE in 2009. Kelce also took over the wildcat duties in 2009 from newly minted defender Demetrius Jones and quite frankly stunned Rutgers. But Kelce slowly faded from view and the wildcat was mothballed down the stretch. There was talk of Kelce flipping over to DE ala Connor Barwin but that didn't come to pass in the spring. But the possibility is still there.
86 - Blake Annen
Annen was a surprise rotational player to me last year. Between Guidugli and Robinson I figured that they were set at the spot. He played in 11 games last year including the opener. But he wasn't in the mix at TE until the Oklahoma game when Guidugli was down with injury. From that point on he was in the rotation, though he did not record a catch.
89 - Demetrius Richardson
Played in 9 games last year, primarily as a special teamer. Has decent athleticism, though not enough to crack the rotation IMO.
35 - Josh Russ
Newly minted TE. Was recruited as a defensive lineman and spent his first season on that side of the ball, but at Linebacker. Was switched to TE in the spring. Played WR in high school and does have some aptitude for the position. If there is a guy who can come from nowhere to crack the rotation it would be Russ.
48 - Matt Staubach
Prefered walk on. Was an option QB in high school. Has enough athleticism for the position but with his frame putting on weight shouldn't be an issue and I could see him sliding down to the offensive line down the line.
Pre Camp Position Rating: 8
There is enough talent here to make the TE a big part of the offense. The three man rotation is solid and I will be disappointed if the staff can't find a way to work these guys into the gameplan.