Tight end has been a rather nondescript position the last few years. The offense simply did not require much production from this group.
That could all change this season.
The tight ends were mostly ignored in the passing game the last few years. Offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite chose to keep the tight end in for blocking. Either these players were that good at blocking, or that bad at catching. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
This season, Shawn Watson will dial the group’s number often. The offense lacks experience at the offensive line. This means the quarterback may need to get rid of the ball quickly. This usually makes the tight end the quarterback’s best friend. At Louisville, the top two tight ends hauled in 42 passes last year. Texas tight ends had six catches. Chances are we will see the tight end more involved in the offense.
And it may be out of necessity.
The receiving corp is depleted. In a matter of weeks, the offense has lost Kendall Sanders, Montrel Meander and Jaxon Shipley. Marcus Johnson and John Harris are the most experienced receivers left. There are talented freshmen on the roster, but they have a lot to learn before the season starts.
This makes tight end production even more important.
Several players could make an impact in the passing game. Senior Geoff Swaim is a big target at six-foot-four. He may not stretch the field, but he should be a reliable target for David Ash on short yardage plays. M.J. McFarland came to Texas as a highly-touted recruit. He is running out of time to make his mark on the program. Perhaps a change in coaching philosophy will help McFarland live up to his potential. An intriguing option is sophomore Blake Whiteley. Whiteley was the No. 1 rated JUCO tight end. He has great size at six-foot-five and a solid 250 pounds.
A new offense, offensive line questions and potentially green quarterbacks could mean a resurgence of the tight end position not seen since David Thomas and Jermichael Finley.
The tight end just might be back at Texas.