Looking ahead: Four of five tight ends back for 2014

A pair of national top-five recruits, Cannon Smith and Milan Richard, will join the TE mix next summer

Clemson wide receiver Stanton Seckinger runs for extra yardage after catching a pass against Virginia.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson wide receiver Stanton Seckinger runs for extra yardage after catching a pass against Virginia.

Minus blocking specialist Darrell Smith, what you see now is what you'll see this spring from Clemson's tight ends.

Sam Cooper, Stanton Seckinger, Jordan Leggett and Jay Jay McCullough will continue to fill a variety of roles in Chad Morris' offense.

Cooper, a rising senior, brings experience and a well-rounded approach to the position, working primarily as a blocker, but on occasion as a downfield receiver.

Seckinger and Leggett are tall, rangy pass-catchers and are still developing the physical side of their games.

McCullough brings something a bit different to the mix, as a 6-3, 230-pound converted running back. The coaches lined McCullough up in the backfield for a string of productive carries late in game against The Citadel - as aspect of the tight end position that Morris had in mind when McCullough was recruited.

The four returning tight ends accounted for 925 of 1,116 snaps this season (83 percent) and combined for 40 receptions - down from 55 in 2012 and 63 in 2011.

More help is on the way this summer when Milan Richard and Cannon Smith arrive. Richard is ranked as the nation's No. 2 tight end prospect by ESPN and is listed in the top 10 by both Rivals and 247Sports. Smith is ranked No. 2 at the position by 247Sports, No. 3 by ESPN and No. 11 by Scout.

Looking ahead to 2015, Clemson has offers out to a pair of four-star prospects: Garrett Williams of Orlando, Fla., and Jackson Harris of Columbia, Tenn.

For 2016, the Tigers have offered Isaac Nauta of Buford, Ga., and Kaden Smith of Flowery Mound, Texas. Both are four-star prospects.

Following is a breakdown of Clemson's tight end personnel for 2014, with 2013 games, starts and snaps:

Senior: Sam Cooper (11, 2, 341)

Junior: Stanton Seckinger (12, 10, 357)

Sophomores: Jordan Leggett (9, 1, 162), Jay Jay McCullough (8, 0, 65)

First-Year Freshmen: Cannon Smith, Milan Richard

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TigerNE writes:

I don't recall as much TE potential for us in quite a long time. A position we've needed to improve since loosing Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford. I don't get why Cooper hasn't been more productive with the ball, either. Although far from perfect, he's been the better blocker of all the guys we've put in that position this year. Maybe the competition in his senior year will help him out.

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