1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2011 stats: 41 rec., 538 yards, 6 TD
All Seferian-Jenkins did last year for the Huskies was everything. At least everything you could ask a tight end to do. As a true freshman in 2011, Seferian-Jenkins had two multi-touchdown games and had 40 or more yards receiving in eight games, including a 91-yard, one touchdown performance against Hawaii. Husky QB Keith Price knows what kind of weapon he has now, expect him to use it often.
2. Joseph Fauria, UCLA
2011 stats: 39 rec., 481 yards, 6 TD
Fauria is listed as a “Y” receiver on UCLA’s roster, but we’re including him as a tight end because he says he’s a tight end and if a 6-foot-7, 255-pound guy says he’s a tight end, then he’s a tight end. Fauria led the Bruins in touchdown catches last year with six, which was the most by a UCLA tight end since Mercedes Lewis in 2005. Fauria had three or more catches in eight of UCLA’s 14 games last season and figures to be a big part of the Bruin offense in 2012.
T-3. Zach Ertz, Stanford
2011 stats: 27 rec., 346 yards, 4 TD
If Stanford coach David Shaw could run an offense with 11 tight ends, he probably would. Stanford ran a lot of three tight end sets last season, which is why Ertz and Toilolo were both able to thrive, despite the performance of Coby Fleener (34 rec., 667 yards, 10 TD). With Fleener now in the NFL, Ertz and Toilolo should both see a modest increase in their stats. However, their production could suffer if Stanford’s new starting QB (either Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes) struggles running the offense.
5. Randall Telfer, USC
2011 stats: 26 rec., 273 yards, 5 TD
On a team that includes preseason All-American wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, it’s easy to overlook Telfer, who was third on the team in receptions, receiving yards and fourth on the team in total touchdowns. Telfer could explode in a game or two this season if teams start to focus too much on Woods and Lee.