Texas head coach Tom Herman blows a bubble while watching his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Baylor on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Waco, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]


Commitment 101: Texas commit Gunnar Helm provides size, upside at tight end

Posted July 27th, 2020


Three-star tight end Gunnar Helm became Texas’ 15th commitment of the 2021 recruiting cycle on Monday afternoon when the Englewood, Colorado native picked the Longhorns over 27 other offers, including Auburn, Georgia, Iowa and Wisconsin. Helm is a 6-5, 225-pounder out of Cherry Creek High School. He is the 26th-ranked tight end and the sixth-best prospect from Colorado in the 2021 cycle, per 247Sports composite rankings.

The tight end position has been a roller coaster for the Longhorns in the current cycle. Texas held and lost pledges from Lake McRee and Landen King before offering Helm on June 9. McRee is now committed to USC, while King flipped to Auburn. Three-star athlete Juan Davis, a long-time Texas commit, could wind up at tight end alongside Helm. 

Helm’s commitment inches Texas’ 2021 recruiting class back towards the top-10. The class currently ranks 12th in the nation and first in the Big 12. The Longhorns have signed a top-10 class and led the Big 12 in recruiting since the 2018 cycle. Texas should be done recruiting tight ends, as the offensive staff  focuses on wide receiver and offensive line.

“Texas feels like a family. I’ve loved building relationships with the staff. Obviously, the football program is among the biggest and most prestigious in the country,” Helm said. “I’m excited for the opportunity. I like the way Texas plans to use me all over the field, and not just as a traditional tight end. The new offense should be exciting to play in for skill position players.”

Skill set: Helm is a big, powerful young prospect who physically reminds me of current tight end Jared Wiley, who came in and contributed as a true freshman. Helm can become a similar player with the ability to be a dominant in-line blocker. Texas sees Davis as more of a flex tight end in the mold of Malcolm Epps. Helm and Davis bring a different skill set to the field, forming a solid duo at tight end in the 2021 cycle. 

“I want to be seen as a tight end who can stay on the field in every scenario,” Helm said. “I’m excited to learn, improve and become a weapon for Texas. The coaches want us to go make plays.”

Helm isn’t just a blocker. He’s an athletic player with upside as a receiver. He’ll need to improve as a route runner, but he does an excellent job using his big frame to keep defenders away from the football. He’s already a solid weapon on third down and in the red zone. He’s also extremely difficult to tackle after the catch because of his size and strength. 

Immediate impact: Texas feels good at tight end moving forward with Epps and Wiley readied to control the position for the next two seasons. Helm won’t need to contribute immediately if the players currently in the position meetings continue to evolve under the new offensive staff. Helm can earn playing time early in his career by offering consistency as a run blocker on the edge, much like Wiley did in the 2020 season. A redshirt year to adjust to the college game and round out his skills would be ideal for Helm.  

Fitting into the program: The offensive staff is new in 2020, so it is still unclear how the Longhorns will look on the offensive side of the football. Texas wants to be multiple, and the Longhorns want to run the football. Tight ends who can block and catch the football make it possible for teams to run different plays and formations with the same personnel on the field. Helm could be a hidden gem who the Texas staff found despite troubles keeping tight ends committed throughout the cycle. 

Recruiting at the position: Texas should be fine at tight end for the 2021 class if the Longhorns can keep Helm and Davis committed. The Longhorns felt done at the position twice already, but de-commitments kept the staff busy. Texas went out-of-state for a tight end for the second time in three cycles. Herman signed Brayden Liebrock out of Arizona in the 2019 class. Texas didn’t sign a true tight end in the 2020 cycle.

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