The Backstory: We're officially in full blown tight end territory, folks. To most Arizona State fans, this is a position of pride. From Zach Miller, to Todd Heap, to our current No. 87 Chris Coyle, Sun Devil tight ends have found success both on the collegiate and professional level.
But when it comes to compare and contrast situation like the one we're currently in, the tight end position might be the biggest headache in all of football. Over the past 50+ years, no position has evolved more than tight ends. Once simply glorified blockers, tight ends are now sometimes the best athletes on the field.
Making the analysis process all the more complicated is the fact that each team uses their tight ends differently. Some still like the bulky bruising types to act as a sixth offensive lineman while other teams use theirs purely out of the slot to create mismatches.
Tired of this rant yet? Well, just keep it in mind before you get too angry at me for passing up the man who could own every major tight end record by the time his ASU career is over.
The Legend: TE Roger Locke (1960-1962)
In 1961, Locke lead the Sun Devils in receiving with 222 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions. Fifty-one years later, Chris Coyle accomplished the same feat, only with 474 more receiving yards, 49 more receptions and three more touchdowns. Now do you see my frustration in comparing apples to great, big, modern oranges?
Even factoring in inflation, you're still probably wondering how Locke earned Legends honors. Well, first off, his body of work is just far more well-rounded. Sure, you could make a case for Coyle's 2012 being the best tight end season in Arizona State history. But at the end of the day, that only earned him All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors.
During his tenure at ASU, Locke accumulated All Border Conference and All WAC team honors even with numbers that are less than flashy by today's standards. Renowned for his speed and blocking ability, Locke was also a natural born leader on the field, earning captain honors for the 1962 Frank Kush-lead team that went 7-2-1.
No, Locke was no Mike Ditka. But by all accounts, he had plenty of natural-born ability so it would have been mighty interesting to see him play in another era.
In the Pros
Locke was invited to the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts enough to become the 49ers eighth round selection in 1963. Yet with the little to no information on his professional career readily available, we're going to assume it wasn't exactly a memorable one. The Internet never lies.
TE Jeff Gallimore: Gallimore was a team captain on one of the greatest Arizona State football teams ever, the 1986 Rose Bowl 9-1-1 winning squad. Still, it's hard to give him legend honors when his entire three-year statistical career at ASU is less than what Coyle did in 2012 alone.
TE Chris Coyle: Coyle's name is all over the ASU record books after last season but as we touched on already, some of that credit goes to the evolution of the tight end position and the passing game in general.
Who Wears It Now?
Oh, just some breakout star at the tight end position that goes by the name Chris Coyle. Fun fact alert: despite leading the Sun Devils with 696 receiving yards last season, Coyle only managed to have two games with over 87 yards receiving.
NHL C Sidney Crosby: The youngest captain in the history of the NHL has had a rough time with injuries as of late but it's still hard to argue that Sid the Kid isn't the epitome of greatness on ice.
NFL WR Dwight Clark: While Clark may have only made two Pro Bowls in his nine-year 49er career, he'll always have "the Catch." And that's got to be worth at least three Pro Bowls by itself.
NFL WR Reggie Wayne: If he retired today, Wayne would easily slide right into the Hall of Fame. The scariest part of it all is that he still is as good as ever after his career renaissance in 2012 sans-Peyton Manning.