Sports in Kansas: 25 Tight Ends to Watch in 2015

Junior Trevor Kent of Pittsburg is a rising TE prospect in Kansas. (submitted photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Aug 4, 2015

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Several tight ends return after having big seasons in 2014. Check out who to watch in 2015. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position and release a full list of players to watch in Kansas. This list from Sports in Kansas is powered by Performance Spine and Sport in Pittsburg, offering full-body cryotheraphy.

(Alphabetical by last name - not ranked)

Jeff Ast, Andale (6-5 260 Sr)

Ast, who also made the defensive line list, is one of the best all-around athletes in Kansas. He is the nation’s top javelin thrower and has the third best throw in Kansas history at 226-02. Ast is also an all-state caliber basketball player. But now its football season and Ast will look to lead the Indians to a second consecutive title in 4A-II. In addition to being one of the top defensive ends to watch in 2015, he is also one of the better tight ends in Kansas. We talked to him earlier this week and he’s up 15 pounds from track season and has an FCS offer from Western Illinois. Expect stock to go up

Shane Berens, Hays (6-3 230 Jr.)

Although he earned more honors on the defensive side of the ball in 2014, Berenes will be depended on just as much on offense for the Indians in 2015. Expect a big year for this junior at tight end. Berens was the lone sophomore to earn any type of first team all-league honor in the Western Athletic Conference last season.

Brendon Brenner, Ellis (6-5 205 Sr.)

Brenner is more of a receiving tight end catching 28 balls last season for 516 yards, four which went for touchdowns. Brenner was a first team All 2-1A tight end from Kpreps last season. He is also one of the better small school basketball players in Kansas averaging over 20 points per game and nine rebounds in 2014-2015.

Hunter Budke, Beloit (6-2 195 Jr.)

Budke earned second team all-league honors as a sophomore in 2014. Budke will also be one of the basketball players to watch in 3A this season after averaging 10.5 points per game in 2014-2015.

Tristin Lewis-Dierking, Meade (6-8 225 Sr.)

Lewis-Dierking is one of the tallest players in Kansas. He is on a team that won’t throw the football a lot as they run the single wing, but his blocking will be relied on in 2015. He is also an All-2A basketball player for the Buffaloes.

Jay Dineen, Free State (6-1 215 Jr.)

Dineen will be a force on both offense and defense for 2015. Although he won’t be a typical tight end, he will play in an H-back role, where he will be depended on to block but can still be used as a weapon. He will also be used as a fullback on the Firebird offense. He features great speed at 4.7 and strength benching 300 pounds. The Sunflower League graduated its top two tight ends in 2015 and is looking for someone to step up at the position. His brother, Joe, a former all-state selection at Free State, is now a sophomore football player at KU.

Austin Fletcher, Hutchinson (6-0 235 Sr.)

Fletcher makes the move to a full-time tight end this season after earning first team all-state on the offensive line in 2014. Fletcher also earned first team all-non senior honors last season from Sports in Kansas. No matter where he plays or how he is used, he is going to be an impact player for the Salthawks.

Nolan Gray, Bishop Miege (6-3 210 Sr.)

Gray, who played H-back for the 2014 4A-I state champ, isn’t a true tight end in the spread Miege runs but he will be a big part of what the Stags will do in 2015. Not only is he a player to watch on the field, he gets it done in the classroom as he features an ACT score of 34.

Layke Hoffman, Winfield (6-6 205 Sr.)

Hoffman is a big target at 6-foot-6 for the Vikings. In 2014, he had 273 yards receiving on 18 catches, four of which went for touchdown. The AVCTL-III looks to be loaded in tight ends as three made our list for 2015.

Cole Howerton, Augusta (6-4 210 Sr)

Howerton had 31 catches for 397 yards and five touchdowns last season for the Orioles. He should be a tight end to watch for in the AVCTL-III this season.

Josh Hudiburg, Fort Scott (6-3 220 Sr.)

In addition to being one of the best javelin throwers in the state, he was also a force at tight end last season for the Tigers. Hudiburg earned second team All-SEK honors as a junior. He will be relied on heavily in the trenches this season on both sides of the line.

ValGene Jones, Wichita North

Jones earned city league honorable mention honors last season. He plays on a struggling team but has been a bright spot for North.

Tate Kaufman, Halstead (6-7 215 Sr.)

Kaufman will be relied on heavily to block for returning all-state RB Blake Beckett and all-state QB candidate Eli McKee in 2015. Halstead lost some key lineman but returns some nice pieces to a team that went 10-3 last season and could have easily ended up playing for a state title if they made less mistakes against Scott City.

Xavier Kelly, Wichita East (6-5 250 Sr.)

Although he is one of the top prospects in the country at defensive end, expect East to use perhaps the most athletic football player in Kansas for the 2015 football season. If you’ve seen this all-state basketball player then you know he can go get a jump ball. Although this isn’t a position he will play in college, expect him to shine when he does line up at the position this season. Kelly did earn all-league honorable mention last season at TE.

Trevor Kent, Pittsburg (6-5 245 Jr.)

Kent is a rising prospect in the class of 2017 at the tight end position and could also see some looks at defensive end. He missed some time last season because of injury but will be the premier prospect in the Southeast Kansas area the next two seasons. Kent already features the size many coaches are looking for at that level and has nice weight room numbers with a 290 bench, 410 squat and 4.8 forty yard dash. He camped at Arkansas, Iowa State, Minnesota and Notre Dame this summer. Athleticism runs in his blood as his dad, Clayton, played at Pitt State in the nineties and his uncle, Brian Hutchins, led Pittsburg State to the 1991 national title at quarterback.

Trace Kochevar, Salina South (6-7 220 Sr.)

Kochevar is back after earning second team All-AVTCL I honors last season as a junior. He is one of tallest players in Kansas standing at 6-foot-7. He caught two touchdown passes last season for the Cougars.

Michael McMullen, Salina Central (6-0 220 Sr.)

McMullen earned second-team all-league honors in one of the better leagues in Kansas (AVCTL-I). He will be one of the tight ends to watch in 5A this season.

Easton Montgomery, SE-Saline (6-4 220 Sr.)

Montgomery, who is one of the best 3A basketball players in Kansas, also gets it done on the football field. Not only was he one of the best punters in Kansas, he showed the ability to be a very good tight end. He caught four touchdown passes last season. His twin sister, Erica, is also one of the top multi-sport girl athletes in Kansas for the class of 2016.

Price Morgan, Lawrence (6-4 212 Sr.)

Not only is he one of the best linebackers in the state of Kansas, he is also one of the top tight ends. He will be depended on heavily to block for all-state running back, J.D. Woods, this season. Morgan, who we all know as one of the hardest hitters in Kansas, also picked up some of those big hits on offense last season. Morgan showed his athletic ability as a starter on the LHS basketball team who took second in 6A this past season.

Josh Pederson, Blue Valley North (6-4 205 Sr.)

Pederson had 27 catches for 425 yards last season for the Mustangs. Pederson returns with senior Joey Dolan to look to improve a Mustang squad who has had very limited success. His father, Doug, is the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.

C.J. Perez, Aquinas (6-2 235 Sr.)

Perez should be an immediate impact transfer from Shawnee Mission Northwest for Aquinas this fall. He features the size to be one of the blockers that Aquinas will look to lead the way in 2015. He is another piece to what has Aquinas looking loaded in 2015. Duron Lowe, who is on the RB to watch list, also transferred from SM Northwest to Aquinas this school year.

Cooper Root, Wichita Collegiate (6-3 210 Sr.)

Root will be a target for senior Austin Waddell to go to this season. He also shows the ability to block and earned second team all-conference honors in 2014. His brother, Landon, now at Kansas State, was an all-state quarterback at Collegiate just two seasons ago.

Luke Stucky, McPherson (6-3 210 Sr.)

Stucky earned second team All-AVCTL III honors for the Bullpups last season. He will be a tight end to look for this season.

Conner VanCleave, Holcomb (6-6 210 Sr.)

VanCleave is one of the better overall athletes in the state. He shined more on defense in 2014 and Holcomb has so many weapons it will be hard for anyone to have great numbers. However, VanCleave did have six touchdown receptions. Look for a big year for him on offense in 2015. VanCleave was all-state 4A-II in basketball last season as Holcomb won the state championship and was also the 4A-II baseball player of the year as a sophomore.

Alex Wilson, Paola (6-7 220 Sr.)

Not only is Wilson a big target he can also run. He may be the top tight end prospect in the class of 2016 for Kansas. Don’t be surprised if he has over a hand full of division one offers by the end of the season. He has an offer from Air Force on the table. The Falcons must like the Frontier League as their current starting tight end, Garrett Griffin, is a 2012 grad of nearby rival Louisburg.

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This list was compiled by Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas with input from Ben Mitchum of SB Nation.