|Andrew Quarless could have been a Wolverine|
Tyler Ecker, 5th
Brian Thompson, 5th
Mike Massey, Jr.
Carson Butler, So.
Chris McLaurin, So.
High school: Springboro High School in Springboro, OH
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #8 TE; Scout 4-star and #6 TE
Other notable offers: Boston College, Michigan State, Wisconsin
College: Ohio State
Scoop: Ballard played immediately at Ohio State, catching 2 passes for 5 yards as a freshman. He then caught 13 passes for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns as a sophomore. He made only 5 receptions for 73 yards in 2008 and jumped back up to 14 receptions for 150 yards in 2009. Ballard went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft and played in only one game after signing with the New York Giants.
High school: Franklin Area High School in Franklin, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #7 TE; Scout 5-star and #1 TE
Other notable offers: Iowa, Miami, USC, West Virginia
Scoop: Byham caught 2 passes for 34 yards as a freshman in 2006. He became the team’s starter in 2007 and grabbed 15 passes for 210 yards and 1 touchdown as a sophomore. Byham had an All-Big East year in 2008 with 20 catches for 260 yards and 1 touchdown, but his production dropped to 10 receptions for only 108 yards as a senior. He was chosen in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he had 5 catches for 27 yards as a rookie. He recently tore his ACL and will miss the 2011 season.
High school: West Allegheny High School in Imperial, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #8 TE; Scout 5-star and #4 WR
Other notable offers: Iowa, Penn State, Tennessee
Scoop: Dickerson played multiple positions at Pittsburgh. He had 3 carries for 25 yards and 1 catch for 5 yards as a freshman, when he lined up mostly at wide receiver. He moved to linebacker in 2007 and had 15 tackles to go along with 4 kickoff returns for 56 yards. Dickerson moved back to offense and played tight end in 2008, when he caught 13 passes for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to 2 carries for 25 yards. He exploded in 2009 with 49 receptions for 529 yards and 10 touchdowns, which earned him All-America honors and a 7th round selection by the Houston Texans in the 2010 NFL Draft. At 6’2″ and 230 lbs., though, he lacked the size to play tight end in the NFL and spent the season languishing on the bench and learning the wide receiver position.
High school: Huguenot High School in Richmond, VA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #12 TE; Scout 4-star and #12 TE
Other notable offers: Florida, Oklahoma, Penn State, Virginia Tech
Scoop: Epps played sparingly as a freshman in 2006, seeing action in 6 games but failing to catch a pass. He played a backup role in 2007 with 8 catches for 83 yards and 1 touchdown. He stepped his game up the next two seasons, starting and catching 22 passes for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2008, then 19 passes for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2009. He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and now plays for the Miami Dolphins, but has yet to catch a pass as a pro.
High school: Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY
Ratings: Rivals 4-star and #13 TE; Scout 4- star and #11 TE
Other notable offers: Miami, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin
College: Penn State
Scoop: Quarless was a multi-year starter at Penn State, notching 46 receptions, 610 yards, and 5 touchdowns in his first three seasons combined. Those starts were interrupted by misbehavior that cost him playing time in both 2007 and 2008. However, he really broke out as a senior in 2009, grabbing 41 receptions for 536 yards and 3 touchdowns from quarterback Daryll Clark. He was a 5th round draft choice by the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 NFL Draft and caught 21 regular season passes for 238 yards and 1 touchdown as a rookie, plus another 5 receptions for 46 yards in the Packers’ playoff run.
High school: Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, CA
Ratings: Rivals 3-star and #39 TE; Scout 3-star and #38 TE
Other notable offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Maryland, Nebraska
College: Notre Dame
Scoop: Yeatman redshirted in 2006, then played sparingly in his next two seasons, totaling just 8 catches for 43 yards. He was caught with marijuana in 2008 and transferred to Maryland prior to the 2009 season, where he sat out the year due to NCAA transfer rules. At Maryland in 2010, Yeatman caught 13 passes for 134 yards and 1 touchdown. He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft but recently signed a rookie free agent contract with the New England Patriots. Yeatman also played lacrosse throughout his college career.
The 2006 offerees turned out a couple solid players, but none of the players turned out to be instant superstars. The highest draft choice was Quarless, and even he had sufficient enough discipline problems at Penn State to lose his starting job. But Michigan failed to grab a single tight end in the class, and in 2007 got only Steve Watson, who has bounced between tight end, defensive end, and linebacker. It wasn’t until 2008 that Michigan pulled in another impact tight end in the form of Kevin Koger, who will likely start for his fourth consecutive year this fall.
Biggest miss: Quarless. Even though he had legal and discipline problems throughout his career, he had the talent to be a four-year starter and probably could have been drafted even higher than the fifth round if not for those issues. His 87 career receptions for 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns exceed anything a Michigan tight end has done since Jerame Tuman ended his career in 1998.
Biggest bust: Ballard. While he may have been held back by the fact that he played for Jim Tressel, whose offense isn’t tight end-friendly, he caught only 34 career passes and 2 touchdowns for Ohio State. For being the #6 or #8 tight end in the country, that’s not very good. Of the five 2006 recruits who have already graduated and had a season in the pros (Yeatman is the only one to have lasted through the 2010 season), only Dickerson has had less success, and Dickerson is undergoing a position change to WR at that level.
Best in class: Jermaine Gresham. Gresham developed into an All-American tight end at Oklahoma by his junior season in 2008, when he caught 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns. He returned to Oklahoma for his senior year but suffered a knee injury that cost him the 2009 season. But Gresham still showed enough talent to be taken #21 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2010 NFL Draft, for whom he caught 52 balls for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns as a rookie.