Ranking top 10 SEC tight ends: Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer is a unanimous No. 1, but who’s next? – Tuscaloosa Magazine

USA TODAY Sports Network  |  The Tuscaloosa News

There’s no question about who the best tight end in SEC football is entering the 2021 season: Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer was a unanimous choice in a poll of sports journalists who cover the league.

Wydermyer got all 17 first-place votes to head a list of the top 10 SEC tight ends as determined by those who cover the conference for the USA TODAY Sports Network.

A total of 11 tight ends from nine schools received votes. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote down to one point for a 10th-place vote. 

The USA TODAY Sports Network is counting down to SEC Media Days, scheduled for July 19-22 in Hoover, Alabama, by revealing its top players at each position grouping.

Here is a look at the top 10 tight ends:

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1. Jalen Wydermyer

Texas A&M junior (170 points, 17 first-place votes)

Wydermyer is ranked as the top tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft class coming into the season. He had 46 receptions for 506 yards and six touchdowns in 2020.

James Fletcher

2. Jahleel Billingsley

Alabama, junior (142 points)

Billingsley presents matchup problems with his size (6-4, 230) and speed. He has a knack for finding weak spots in the zone, catching 18 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns in 2020.

Nick Kelly

3. Darnell Washington

Georgia, sophomore (114 points)

Washington had a big spring game to follow up the final two games of last season when he had five catches for 107 yards. The Las Vegas native is a matchup problem at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. 

Marc Weiszer

4. Ben Bresnahan

Vanderbilt, senior (106 points)

Bresnahan had four touchdown catches last season, second-most among returning SEC tight ends, along with 28 receptions for 300 yards. He’ll be a prime target in Vanderbilt’s new offense. 

Adam Sparks

5. Nick Muse

South Carolina, senior (101 points)

Muse is in his third season with the Gamecocks after transferring from William & Mary. The 6-foot-4, 249-pounder caught 14 passes for 198 yards his final two games in 2020 after catching 16 for 227 his first eight. 

Eric Boynton

6. Kemore Gamble

Florida, senior (96 points)

Gamble stepped up last season with Kyle Pitts out, catching a touchdown against Georgia and two at Vanderbilt. He finished the year with 160 yards on 10 receptions.

Zach Abolverdi

7. Blake Kern

Arkansas, senior (54 points)

The 255-pound Kern is serviceable as an extra offensive lineman, but he’s showcased some receiving chops. His 201 yards and two touchdowns were both good for fourth on the team. 

Will Backus

8. (tie) Keaton Upshaw

Kentucky, junior (52 points)

Upshaw caught three touchdown passes despite Kentucky using its tight ends primarily as blockers last season. Of his 16 catches in 2021, 11 came in the final five games.

Jon Hale

8. (tie) Baylor Cupp

Texas A&M, sophomore (52 points)

Cupp has suffered injuries in fall practice each of the last two years but has the talent to make an impact when healthy. He was ranked the No. 1 tight end in the 2019 class by 247Sports.

James Fletcher

10. Jack Bech

LSU, freshman (25 points)

Arik Gilbert transferred to Georgia, leaving room for Bech to fill the hole with his receiver-like ability and blocking prowess.

Glenn Guilbeau

NOTE: Arik Gilbert, who caught 35 passes for 368 yards with two touchdowns at LSU last season, announced his intention to enter the transfer portal before voting took place. He joined Georgia’s roster after the voting had ended. Georgia lists him as a wide receiver on its roster.

Voting panel: Zach Abolverdi, Gainesville Sun; John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Will Backus, Knoxville News Sentinel; Eric Blum, Columbia Daily Tribune; James Fletcher, The Tuscaloosa News; Gentry Estes, The Tennessean; Aria Gerson, The Tennessean; Glenn Guilbeau, The Daily Advertiser; Jon Hale, The Courier Journal; Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa News; Nick Kelly, The Tuscaloosa News; Adam Sparks, The Tennessean; Nick Suss, The Clarion-Ledger; Blake Toppmeyer, Knoxville News Sentinel; Josh Vitale, Montgomery Advertiser; Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald; Mike Wilson, Knoxville News Sentinel.