Quality tight ends are often referred to as a quarterback’s best friend. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, it’s been a long while since they’ve had a difference maker at the position.
From 1994 through 2007 Texas had five of the top eight most productive tight ends in the school’s history – Pat Fitzgerald (’94-96), Derek Lewis (’95-98), Bo Scaife (’99-’04), David Thomas (’02-’05) and Jermichael Finely (’05-’07). Finley posted the second-most receptions by a Texas tight end in his final season (45), but since then the cupboard has been bare for the Longhorns.
Blaine Irby was poised to be the next in line before suffering a knee injury in the third game of his sophomore season in 2008 and another prior to his senior season in 2010.
With Irby battling injuries throughout his UT career, tight end has been a wasteland on the 40 Acres for the last five seasons. And it’s very hard to see M.J. McFarland going from his eight-reception season of 2012 to being a difference maker on offense this fall no matter how dark the burnt orange tint on your sunglasses.
So is there an answer on the way?
No. At least not yet.
But it’s not like Texas isn’t trying. The Horns had Belton’s Durham Smythe verbally committed in the 2013 class before the four-star prospect flipped to Notre Dame. And earlier this week the Longhorn coaching staff extended an offer to Tyler Luatua out of La Mirada (Calif.).
Luatua is the consensus No. 1 tight end in the country in the 2014 class and is being heavily recruited by almost every big-name program out there. While the response out of the Golden State has been positive after the offer, Texas will definitely have a lot of ground to make up on schools like Alabama, Notre Dame and USC to end its six-year drought of landing an elite tight end.
Louisiana’s Anthony Jones created a stir after Texas’ one-day camp on June 2, but the Horns are yet to offer the 6-foot-5, 215-pound 2014 prospect. Even if they were to offer Jones a scholarship it will probably be tough to steal him away from in-state LSU – all 13 recruiting analysts who’ve weighed in on 247’s Crystal Ball feature predict he’ll wind up a Bayou Bengal when the dust settles in February.
After that you may have to look farther down the line to 2015, where Texas is recruiting Florida State commit and Houston Clear Lake product Jordan Davis.
Despite being committed to the Seminoles, Davis is taking a long look at the rest of his options. A strong 2013 season by the Longhorns would really help their chances of landing the elite junior-to-be.
There’s no doubt Texas is has turned up the heat on the recruiting trail following the 2010 season, but the one position where the Horns are yet to reap the benefits of the increased effort has been tight end. And for a school that desperately wants more from its quarterbacks in the post-Young/McCoy era, giving the signal caller a best friend on the field would be a huge help.
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