Pac-12: Ben Ladner
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
|AP Photo/Elaine Thompson|
|At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Arizona's Rob Gronkowski is the Pac-10's top tight end.|
There's significant stratification among Pac-10 tight ends in 2008.
- There's the elite, All-American types in Arizona's Rob Gronkowski and Oregon's Ed Dickson.
- Then there's a lot of the lunch pail guys, such as UCLA's Logan Paulsen and Washington State's Devin Frischknecht, among others.
- Then there's the older guys who will face big challenges from touted younger players or even incoming freshmen during the preseason, such as USC's Anthony McCoy and Washington's Michael Gottlieb.
It's a near-certainty that Gronkowski and Dickson, barring injury, will replace the departed 2007 first-and second-team All-Pac-10 tight ends, USC's Fred Davis and Washington State's Jed Collins. But count on some of these guys in the middle turning in surprisingly productive seasons, particularly Frischknecht and Cameron Morrah, who will need to help out young receiving corps.
And count on the postseason list including a couple of freshmen, such USC's Blake Ayles and Washington's Kavario Middleton. ESPN.com recruiting guru Tom Luginbill called Ayles "a future NFL first-rounder" and Middleton "a beast on both sides of the ball."
Here's the ranking:
- Rob Gronkowski, So., Arizona: Don't be surprised if this 6-foot-6, 260-pound powerhouse earns first-team All-American honors. He averaged 18.8 yards per catch last year because DBs couldn't tackle him.
- Ed Dickson, Jr., Oregon: Dickson is basically a 240-pound receiver, and he'll line up outside plenty. With the Ducks being young at receiver, he'll eclipse last year's numbers (43 receptions for 453 yards).
- Logan Paulsen, Sr., UCLA: The Bruins team captain hasn't put up huge numbers but he's a capable blocker and receiver who's got a chance to play on Sundays.
- Howard Croom, Jr., Oregon State: A reliable guy. Hauled in 20 receptions for 188 yards and three TDs in 2007.
- Cameron Morrah, Jr., California: He should emerge from Craig Stevens' shadow and become an above-average tight end.
- Devin Frischknecht, Sr., Washington State: It kind of sneaks up on you that he caught 18 passes for 191 yards with three TDs as a backup last year.
- Ben Ladner, Jr., Stanford: Seems to have settled in at TE after bouncing from position to position. Caught 27 passes for 198 yards in 2007.
- Michael Gottlieb, Sr., Washington: Former walk-on will battle with redshirt freshman Chris Izbicki and true freshman Kavario Middleton for the starting job.
- Anthony McCoy, Jr., USC: He likely will face a challenge from touted true freshman Blake Ayles.
- Andrew Pettes, Sr., Arizona State: Who knows who will start here for the Sun Devils? They lost three TEs to graduation, one to academics and one to a transfer.