Not every position is stocked every year in recruiting. Plenty has been said about the awesome defensive tackle and pro-style quarterback groups of 2016, but the tight ends are pretty special, too. I think there will be quite a few NFL and all-conference players from this crop.
In fact, I think there is more talent in the 2016 tight end group than the 2014 and 2015 crops combined. There are too many to list, but let's chat about a few of them anyhow.
Isaac Nauta is a five-star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite. The Buford (Ga.) IMG Academy star stands 6'3 and tips the scales at 244 pounds, and should be an instant contributor for the Georgia Bulldogs. Nauta has a great feel for the game and awesome natural athleticism.
Kaden Smith is a four-star prospect from Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High School. Stanford beat out Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas for the 6'5, 235-pound prospect. I've seen Smith at various camps since he was an eighth grader, and it was pretty obvious he'd be a top prospect even back then, with great potential as a receiver and blocker.
Cary Angeline stands a towering 6'7 and weighs in at 230 pounds. The Exton (Penn.) Downingtown East High School star committed to USC in June 2015, and the four-star held offers from a number of other high-profile programs in addition to the Trojans. Those schools include Penn State, Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and UCLA. I've had college coaches tell me he's the best prospect in the class.
Jamal Pettigrew is a four-star from New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine, and unsurprisingly signed with LSU. Standing 6'6, 229 pounds, Pettigrew held offers from a number of big time programs across the Southeast and beyond, including Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Ole Miss, TCU, Tennessee and Texas. Pettigrew is a bit raw but has some serious ability.
Ohio State actually signed three top tight ends recruits! Coming from Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Mueller, four-star recruit Jake Hausmann stands 6'4 and weighs in at 230 pounds. He also held offers from Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, Iowa, Louisville, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Luke Farrell is yet another four-star tight end commit for Ohio State. The Perry (Ohio) star stands 6'6 and weighs 240 pounds, and held offers from a number of big time programs. Those schools include Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, Wisconsin and more. And the Buckeyes also landed Kierre Hawkins, a three-star of Maple Heights (OH), who profiles as more of an h-back. The odds are great that the Buckeyes get a star.
Four-star recruit Landon Rice signed with Auburn. The Calhoun (Ga.) product is a big boy, standing 6'5 and weighing in at 250 pounds. Aside from the Tigers, Rice held offers from Alabama, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan, Cincinnati, Florida and Georgia Tech. The Tigers really struggled in the run game with a lack of competent fullbacks and tight ends in 2015, so Rice could provide some much-needed blocking.
Florida State lost Nauta, but Naseir Upshur is a four-star recruit from Philadelphia (Penn.) Imhotep Institute. Upshur stands 6'2 and weighs in at 233 pounds, so he profiles as more of an h-back. He held offers from teams all over the country, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and USC.
And a sleeper I really like is Chase Allen, a three-star from Nixa (MO), who signed with Iowa State over offers from Michigan and Florida State. Allen improved a ton as a senior as he gained weight and his coordination improved.