Texas tight end Andrew Beck celebrates a score late in the 4th quarter against Baylor Bears during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Catching balls? Overrated. Andrew Beck, Texas tight ends find ways to contribute

Posted November 1st, 2016

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The meeting room for Texas’ tight ends could be mistaken for the island of misfit toys.

Texas has nine tight ends on its roster, but not many were familiar with the position when they arrived on campus. In fact, Canada transplant Blake Whiteley, Llano walk-on Matt Center and the Louisiana-bred Peyton Aucoin are the only Longhorns tight ends who actually intended to be tight ends.

Caleb Bluiett and Quincy Vasser were defensive ends when they signed with Texas. Back in 2014 — Charlie Strong’s first class — Andrew Beck was a linebacker and Garrett Gray was a receiver. Chris Fehr and Robert Willis, both walk-ons, were offensive linemen from area high school, and Willis never played varsity football at Dripping Springs.

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“We’re a bunch of guys that weren’t recruited as tight ends that are now playing tight end,” Beck said. “We all complement each other very well. We keep each other in line, but we have a good time.”

Texas Longhorns 42 Caleb Bluiett fights for yardage against Cal Golden Bears defense during the first half of a NCAA college football game, Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Texas Longhorns 42 Caleb Bluiett fights for yardage against Cal Golden Bears defense during the first half of a NCAA college football game, Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Blocking is a job requirement for a tight ends at Texas, where they often are as anonymous as their beefier brothers along the offensive line. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Geoff Swaim last year. And back in 2011, D.J. Grant caught 16 passes. Those are the high-water marks for Texas tight ends over the past five seasons.

Texas tight ends have three catches this season. All are from Beck. The Longhorns, though, are averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and D’Onta Foreman just became the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2007.

“I think they feel blessed to be on the field as anyone should,” left tackle Connor Williams said. “Whatever it takes to win as a team and whatever their role is, they embrace it.”

The 6-3, 253-pound Beck has scored on two of his three receptions. That’s tied for fifth among Texas pass-catchers.

Beck streaked down the middle of the field against Oklahoma State for an uncontested 39-yard score. Four weeks later, against Baylor, he lined up in the backfield and turned a quick throw from Shane Buechele into a seven-yard score.

The touchdown in Stillwater gave the Longhorns a 25-23 lead in a game they lost 49-31. The score at Baylor’s expense pulled Texas to within 34-32 in the fourth quarter of a 35-34 win.

“It’s definitely overlooked what (the tight ends) do for our offense,” Buechele said. “Andrew has done a good job, and also Bluiett can do that same thing. With our offense, we don’t utilize it as much. That’s just how our offense runs. I think they’ve done a great job with what we’ve put in.”

Beck, a Floridian who played some tight end at Plant High in Tampa, was switched from defense to offense before his freshman season at Texas. He started two games as a freshman in 2014; he and Bluiett both had eight catches in 2015.

Beck joked that his two touchdowns were “an accident.” So don’t expect him to demand more looks this week, even if Texas Tech is allowing 304.6 passing yards per game.

“I can promise you one thing, I’m not going to tell (offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert) anything,” Beck said. “If they throw me the ball 50 times next game, awesome. If I block 75 times for D’Onta, even better. It’s however they need us.”

Texas's Andrew Beck carries the ball against OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Ok., on Saturday, October 01, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN
Texas’s Andrew Beck carries the ball against OSU at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Ok., on Saturday, October 01, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

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