The sad thing about Ole Miss fading from national relevance — now 3-3 after Saturday night’s 34-30 loss at Arkansas — is that America might not fully appreciate the greatness of Rebels tight end Evan Engram.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior caught 7 passes for 111 yards against the Razorbacks, including a touchdown on which he did his best impersonation of a steamroller. Engram bounced off a defender at the 2-yard line, then charged right back into him and drove the poor guy all the way across the goal line.
Often referred to as an oversized wideout, Engram looked like a bona fide, bulldozing tight end on that play. It symbolized a season that has seen him take his game to another level.
Engram extended his SEC lead in receiving yards — 590 on 37 catches — 102 more than second-place Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M’s star wide receiver. Engram leads all tight ends nationally and has 200-plus yards more than the closest Power 5 tight end.
Evan Engram. pic.twitter.com/q834j4Olc6
— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) October 16, 2016
So consider this an appreciation of Engram, for whom there are so many ways to illustrate his greatness but likely few remaining national-TV appearances to enjoy it. He’s had at least 4 catches, 82 yards and a touchdown in five of six games this season. He’s produced 3 100-yard games.
In a dazzling career, Engram already has caught 134 passes for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns. But here is the most impressive number: He’s on pace for 1,180 receiving yards by the end of the regular season. In the past seven years, only one tight end in college football — Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro in 2013 — produced a 1,000-yard season.
All of this bodes well for Engram’s near future. He looks like a lock to win the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end, and is probably going to make a whole bunch of money after the season.
Four of the last five tight ends who ranked No. 1 in receiving yards at their position went on to become first- or second-round NFL draft picks. The fifth is still in school. Incredibly, NFLDraftScout.com rates Engram the fourth-best tight end available in the next draft — but it still projects him to be picked in the second round.
Over the next few weeks, even if Ole Miss is out of the spotlight, find the Rebels on your cable package and watch the most reliable and exciting tight end in college football.
NATION’S TOP TIGHT END (RECEIVING YARDS)
2016 – Evan Engram, Ole Miss, 590 yards (through six games)
2015 – Hunter Henry, Arkansas, 739 yards, second round NFL Draft
2014 – Jonnu Smith, Florida International, 710 yards, still in school
2013 – Jace Amaro, Texas Tech, 1,352 yards, second round NFL Draft
2012 – Zach Ertz, Stanford, 898 yards, second round NFL Draft
2011 – Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, 803 yards, first round NFL Draft
2010 – Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, 794 yards, fourth round NFL Draft
2009 – Aaron Hernandez, Florida, 850 yards, fourth round NFL Draft