Is There a Future Star Emerging at Tight End?

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    According to senior tight end Jakob Johnson, the Vols may have a future star at the tight end position. Or at least a player who could outperform his expectations.

    Johnson spoke to the media on Friday afternoon, and not only did he say he is ready to make an impact as a tight end this season, but he also spoke about a freshman who has stood out to him. And that freshman is none other than LaTrell Bumphus, a tight end out of Savannah, Tennessee.

    Bumphus was listed as a defensive end/athlete prospect coming out of high school. Bumphus played on both sides of the ball for Hardin County High School, and Vol coaches believed his highest ceiling was at tight end. And if Johnson’s assessment is to be believed, the coaches were right.

    “He can run for a guy that’s 260 pounds coming out of high school,” Johnson said on Friday. “He can really move, and he’s really physical. He’s a raw talent.

    “I think you’ll hear his name a lot down the line. I think he has a great potential as a tight end for UT.”

    The praise from Johnson is good to hear for Vol fans hoping to see a future play-maker emerge at the tight end position. But Bumphus is far from the only young tight end trying to make a name for himself in that position group.

    James Brown is a fellow freshman tight end that joined the Vols in the 2017 class along with Bumphus. There’s also redshirt freshman Austin Pope and redshirt sophomore Eli Wolf at the position.

    If Bumphus wants to live up to Johnson’s praise, he’ll have to overcome a somewhat crowded tight end position in the future. The Vols also have a commitment from in-state tight end Jacob Warren in the 2018 class.

    Bumphus was the No. 685 overall prospect in the country in the 2016 class according to the regular 247Sports rankings. The 247Sports Composite rankings had Bumphus as the No. 439 overall player, but he was listed as a defensive end prospect. Bumphus was listed as a four-star defensive end by Rivals, a four-star athlete by ESPN, and a three-star defensive end by Scout.

    Only time will tell if the former defensive end athlete will transition into a star at tight end. But if Johnson is right, then the Vols found a diamond in the rough in their 2017 recruiting class.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.