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Top 5 Incoming Big Ten Tight End Transfers for 2024

There were not quite as many fireworks in the incoming Big Ten tight end transfers. Despite that, there are a few who can make their mark.

Historically, the Big Ten has produced several great tight ends. Of late, Iowa has been an NFL tight-end factory. Still, coaches dipped into the transfer portal for reinforcements this offseason. According to 247Sports, there is a handful of Big Ten tight-end transfers to watch in 2024.

Top Incoming Big Ten Tight End Transfers in 2024

Jack Velling: Michigan State (from Oregon State)

With the defection of Jonathan Smith from Oregon State to Michigan State, he brought a handful of players. One of those players, is the top Big Ten tight end transfer, Jack Velling.

Coming into 2024, he appeared in 23 games for the Beavers. 11 of those games were in 2022 as a true freshman. Velling started seven times for the Beavers and amassed 281 yards and three touchdowns. His 60-yard touchdown against Colorado was the longest from an Oregon State tight end in 20 years.

Last year, Velling took another step. In 11 starts, Velling recorded 438 yards and eight touchdowns. Those eight scores tied the FBS lead among tight ends and broke the Oregon State record for the position.

Cole Rusk: Illinois (from Murray State)

Illinois is Cole Rusk’s third team in four seasons and his first at the Power 4 level. Initially, Rusk was a member of the Easter Michigan program. Coming out of Illinois, Rusk was a three-star recruit and only held two scholarship offers, according to his 247Sports page. Only Army and Eastern Michigan offered Rusk.

At Eastern Michigan, Rusk only appeared in one game over his two seasons on campus. Then, he jumped down to the FCS level and found success at Murray State. With the Racers, Rusk broke out to the tune of 507 yards and six touchdowns off 39 receptions. His efforts earned him both Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention and Third-Team FCS All-American honors.

Rusk has two years of eligibility remaining and he said that playing for the Fighting Illini is a “dream come true.” He looks to replace NFL-bound, Tip Reiman.

Will Kacmarek: Ohio State (from Ohio)

From the Bobcats to the Buckeyes, Will Kacmarek jumps into a lineup full of stars. The tight end position, however, appears up in the air for Ohio State.

Kacmarek committed to Ohio out of high school as a defensive lineman. As a true freshman in 2021, Kacmarek did not appear in any action as he was learning the position. He was able to get a hold of the position well enough because, in 2022, he hauled in 20 passes for 264 yards. Last season, Kacmarek posted similar numbers. Of 22 receptions, Kacmarek added 243 yards and two touchdowns.

For Ohio, Kacmarek was often utilized as a blocker. For Ohio State, his role will likely be similar. Even then, with Cade Stover off to the NFL, the tight end unit is unproven and wide-open.

Jackson McGowan: Wisconsin (from LSU)

As a three-star recruit out of Ohio, Jackson McGowan had plenty of options on the table and he chose to head south to LSU. In his recruiting profile, 247Sports gushed over his ability to be a pass-catching threat. He is great at the point of catch, makes 50-50 balls go in his favor, and shows that he was able to make the circus catches with ease. As a senior in high school, McGowan shined to the tune of 941 yards and 12 touchdowns.

McGowan enrolled early at LSU and made a name for himself as a special teams regular. In eight appearances, McGowan logged 70 snaps between kick and punt teams. As an offensive weapon, he only played nine snaps where six came in one game.

McGowan transfers to Wisconsin with three years of eligibility remaining.

Keleki Latu: Washinton (from Nevada)

Finally, the fifth-best of the incoming Big Ten tight end transfers heads to one of the new Pacific Northwest programs. Washington is Keleki Latu‘s third team in four years. He follows in his older brother, Laiatu Latu‘s footsteps.

Out of high school, Latu enrolled at Cal and amassed 255 yards and two touchdowns over two seasons. Then, he transferred to Nevada where he managed 179 yards off of 14 receptions in only six games. He transferred back into the Power 4 to a Washington tight end room under plenty of change. After two graduated and another transferred out, Latu should have his opportunity early.

Photo Credit: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC


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