The Tigers have plenty of options when it comes to using the tight end for the 2008 season. …
Top 7 TEs in the ACC
After catching 54 passes for 553 yards and four touchdowns, Ryan Purvis earned first-team All-ACC honors. He was easily the most productive tight end in the league. Now a senior, Purvis will be without the services of the top quarterback in the nation in Matt Ryan, but he's No. 1 on our list because the No. 2 player is coming off a devastating knee injury and didn't play a down in 2007.
#2. Anthony Hill (6-6,265) - N.C. State
A tremendous talent blessed with good hands and outstanding athleticism, Hill is one of the top tight ends in the nation. Problem is he's coming off a knee injury (ACL) that kept him out of the entire 2007 season. He missed spring practice but is expected to be back in time for preseason camp. Is he healthy enough to become the impact player many thought he would be last season? Hill caught 45 passes for 478 yards in 2006, but strangely enough, didn't score a touchdown.
#3. John Phillips (6-6,250) - Virginia
Phillips, a senior and team captain, caught 17 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns a year ago, but played behind two tight ends who are trying to make their way in the NFL in Jonathan Stupar and Todd Santi. Keep in mind Santi and Stupar combined to catch 76 passes for 777 yards and five scores. Before it's all said and done, Phillips could be the top tight end in the league in 2008. Big target who has excellent hands.
#4. Zach Pianalto (6-4,240) - North Carolina
Butch Davis had some pretty good tight ends with the Miami Hurricanes, and now he's got another good one in Chapel Hill in the sophomore Pianalto. As a freshman, he caught 24 passes for 204 yards but likely won't see a huge increase in production in 2008 given that North Carolina returns its top three receivers, including potential All-ACC pick Hakeem Nicks. Pianalto gets the edge here over Phillips and Wheeler as he's a step faster.
#5. Sam Wheeler (6-3,269) - Virginia Tech
Wheeler, a junior, registered 15 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown a year ago but should benefit with the loss of Tech's top four receivers. Powerful blocker as well.
#6. Michael Palmer (6-5,245) - Clemson
A serviceable tight end who caught 13 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown a year ago. Will likely be in line to catch 20 passes but is still probably No. 6 or 7 on the offensive weapon totem pole for talented Tigers. Solid as a blocker and a receiver.
#7. Dan Gronkowski (6-6,255) - Maryland
Maryland's Joey Haynos was one of the top tight ends in the league a year ago, forcing Gronkowski into miniscule stats- seven catches for 66 yards. With his departure to the NFL, Gronkowski figures heavily in the plans of the Terps' west coast offense under new coordinator James Franklin (Kansas State).
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