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August 4, 2012

Summer standouts: TEs prove to be weapons


The summer camps have wound down and the Rivals.com recruiting analysts were all over the country, scouting hundreds of prospects. Over the next week, Rivals.com is releasing our Summer Standouts list, position-by-position. Here is our list of athletes.

Note: This does not reflect a guaranteed move up in our next set of rankings. Many players listed had excellent summers but also proved we had them ranked in the correct range in our previous rankings. These are in alphabetical order.

Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte (N.C.), Christian: As one of the hottest prospects in the class of 2014, it's no secret that Blazevich's stock is on the rise. He spent the summer making his name known throughout the Southeast, including standout performances at LSU's and Clemson's camps. While his size (6-5, 240) leads many to believe he's more of a blocker, Blazevich is anything but. He's comfortable playing in space and has the ability to get open, especially against linebackers and safeties.

Jake Butt, Pickerington (Ohio) North Pickerington: While it will be tough for the highly rated Butt to move up in the rankings, he justified his already lofty status with a terrific summer. Up against the best players in the nation at The Opening, the Michigan commit more than held his own, drawing strong reviews from observers and fellow campers.

Pete Cender, Howell (Mich.): Despite being a three-star prospect with great size (6-5, 220), Cender has flown under the radar for most of the summer. He had his best effort at the Michigan State camp, but also performed well at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp. He's currently committed to Air Force, where he also camped this summer and his blocking ability combined with ability to find open spots on the field should help him at the next level.

Dylan Chmura, Waukesha (Wisc.) West: A relatively unknown recruit despite his famous bloodlines, Chmura turned a solid performance at the Michigan State camp into an offer and a commitment. He's already a good blocker and possesses soft hands. He missed his junior season with a knee injury and is likely to bounce back strongly during his senior season.

Garrett Dickerson, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic: At a Rutgers camp dominated by receivers back in June, Dickerson showed out for the tight end position. The rising junior is a physical specimen and has great speed for a player his size. He's comfortable lining up with his hand in the dirt and playing out of the slot. His strength and leaping ability are two traits that have also endeared him to college coaches.

Daniel Helm, Chatham (Ill.) Glenwood: The 6-foot-5, 220-pound, 2014 tight end was a top performer at the Rivals Underclassman Challenge, as well as the Illinois NIKE camp. Because of his slight build he has the ability to play both tight end and receiver, but projects as a tight end in college. Helm already has the pass-catching and route-running ability to play at the next level, and he'll only become a better blocker as he adds weight to his frame.

Mike Heuerman, Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier: Heuerman elected to go to only one offseason camp, but made it count. At the IMG 7-on-7, the Notre Dame-commit was reliable catching the ball, and also showed some nice speed down the field. He's not the fastest guy on the field, but he can get open and is a good safety valve for his quarterback.

O.J. Howard, Autuaga (Ala.) Autauga Academy: Whether it was the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening or Gridiron Kings, Howard outshined the competition. At 6-foot-6, Howard is a physical specimen. Time and time again over the summer he showed that he has the hands and game to go with his physique. He paired with Georgia-commit Brice Ramsey to help lead Team Southeast to the Gridiron Kings championship.

Travis Johnson, Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit: Despite playing out of his region during the Gridiron Kings event in Orlando, Johnson showed why he is one of the top members of Miami's 2013 class. He helped Team Midwest surprise many in advancing to the finals, and might have had a bigger day in the championship game if it weren't for average quarterback play. Johnson also performed well at the IMG 7-on-7 and with a little work in the weight room will be a top-end talent.

Koda Martin, Monroe (La.) Ouachita Parish: A rising junior and already 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Martin has the attention of most major programs across the country. He was one of the top performers at Les Miles Tiger Camp in June, standing out for his size and blocking ability. Because of those attributes, some schools want him an offensive lineman, but he doesn't carry very much bad weight and should be able to play tight end if that's where he wants to play in college.

Josh McNeil, Durham (N.C.) Hillside: The four-star was a surprise standout at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and followed that with an impressive performance at The Opening. He's more of a blocker than a receiver, but he has the ability to get open and is also sure-handed. He should combine with Howard to give Alabama two quality tight end options for the future.

Kyle Penniston, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei: One of the few class of 2015 players to attend to the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge with an offer already in hand, Penniston started the summer as a riser. But after showing good coordination and pass-catching ability for a player of his age and size, it's no wonder Florida State offered him despite a limited role during his freshman season. Penniston transferred schools during the offseason, and figures to play a big role for Mater Dei this season.

DeSean Smith, Lake Charles (La.) Barbe: Another player who will have a tough time moving up because of his already lofty status, Smith had a great summer. At the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, he played to his strengths, helping him stand out and become a favorite target of the camp's quarterbacks. Smith is staying close to home to attend LSU and his performance over the summer shows that the Tigers are exactly what they expected.

Jacory Washington, Westlake (La.): Washington is another player who turned in a solid performance at the Rivals Underclassman Challenge followed by the LSU camp last month. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he's the prototypical 21st-century tight end. He has size, speed and the ability to catch the ball on a consistent basis, the perfect foundation for success at the next level. Just a rising junior, he picked up offers from Alabama and Arkansas over the summer and plenty of other teams are likely to follow.

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