In our 6th installment of College football's greatest players ever by position, we feature the tight end. Growing up on Long Island, I wasn't far removed from the Orangemen of Syracuse. While they had a few running backs I had heard of (Floyd Little & Larry Csonka in the 60's), it was the tight end of my beloved Baltimore Colts that caught my attention. I was too young to see him in college, but in the NFL, John Mackey was tight end God for my favorite team. For that reason alone (and I did hear he was pretty good in college) , you will find him on my list. Please check the link to the extremely awesome Original Retro Brand shirt of the school that these legends played for while reminiscing...... Here are the best ten College Tight Ends of ALL TIME!!!
10. Dave Casper, Notre Dame: The "Ghost" led the golden domer's to the 1973 National Championship. Before he became a standout receiver, he was awarded honorable mention honors as an offensive lineman.
9. Tony Gonzales, CAL Bears: Gonzalez hauled in 92 catches in his junior year; unheard of numbers for a tight end. He also made it to the Sweet Sixteen as a basketball player
8. John Mackey, Syracuse: (see opening paragraph).
7. Mark Bavaro, Notre Dame: The All-American was well respected for playing through injuries, and he would go on to win two Super Bowl rings in the NFL with the New York Giants.
6. Kellen Winslow I & II, Missouri & Miami: Two-time consensus All American, and College Football Hall of Famer Kellen I, was the better of the two. Kellen II almost didn't make the list because of his arrogant attitude with the Canes, but his talent just cannot be overlooked
5. Ted Kwalick, Penn State: Kwalick was the first 2-time All-American football player at Penn State. Totaled over 1,000 receiving yards for the Lions, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
4. Jim Mandich, Michigan: Mandich is a member of the Michigan Ring of Honor (next to former President Gerald Ford), a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and a member of the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins Super Bowl Championship team.
3. Charlie Young, USC: Led the Trojans to the 1972 National championship behind a USC record breaking 62 receptions for a tight end. He finished with just over 1,000 yards receiving for his career, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He would go on to win Rookie of the year in the NFL with the Eagles, and a Super Bowl ring with the 49er's.
DITKA A GREAT PUNTER TOO!
2. Mike Ditka, Pitt: Before becoming an NFL hall of Famer with the Chicago Bears, and leading the Bears to a Super Bowl victory as a coach, Ditka led the Pitt Panthers in receiving for all 3 seasons he played - very unusual for a tight end. He also handled the teams punting duties, and many consider Ditka the best college tight end ever. But that distinction goes to......
1. Keith Jackson, Oklahoma: The original "Boomer Sooner" led Oklahoma to their 1986 National Championship over Penn State. He averaged over 23 yards per catch. In addition to being a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Jackson was voted Offensive Player of the 20th Century at OU.
MADE IT TO THE SHOW!
HONORABLE MENTION: Has to go to my friend Chris Renaldo of Maryland. He was a linebacker/Defensive end who always lined up against the tight end. Yes, this is just an excuse to show a goofy picture of him. Heck, he went to the Hula Bowl with Boomer Esiason and had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Lions.
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