One of the newest elite targets on the radar of the 2023 Texas football recruiting class this summer is the five-star Pinnacle (AZ) tight end Duce Robinson. Texas offered Robinson a while back, but wasn’t really a contender among his top schools until very recently.
What landed the Longhorns on Robinson’s radar this summer was the commitment of the elite five-star Isidore Newman quarterback Arch Manning, which came back on June 23. Texas landing a commitment from Arch opened many doors for the Longhorns 2023 class that weren’t there before, but Robinson is definitely a profound development on the recruiting trail.
Since landing a commitment from Arch, Texas was able to get Robinson on the books for an official visit and actually get themselves in the mix among his top schools heading into the fall. There is still an uphill battle ahead for the Longhorns to make up any ground with the USC Trojans looking to hold a commanding lead in Robinson’s recruitment.
But the fact that the Longhorns will be able to get Robinson to campus for a visit this year is a massive win in and of itself for this staff.
In a scenario where Texas is able to actually push USC in the race to land a commitment from Robinson heading into the fall, what would this five-star tight end bring to the table for the Longhorns?
Given the fact that Robinson is the top-ranked 2023 tight end recruit in the nation, it’s clear that he would be a game-changer for this position group almost right away. Even with talented tight ends such as rising senior Jahleel Billingsley and sophomore Ja’Tavion Sanders on the roster, Texas doesn’t have anyone at the level of Robinson in this room at the moment.
Robinson has the potential to be a Day 1-caliber talent in the NFL Draft a few years down the line. His 6-foot-6 and 225-pound frame combined with his insane athleticism make Robinson a can’t miss prospect in the eyes of a pro or college scout.
Robinson also has a 6-foot-10 wingspan and 10-inch hands, giving him a massive advantage against opposing defenders on blocking assignments and in the passing game. He also has the undoubted flat-out speed for a tight end of his size, soft hands, and a deep understanding and versatility in various passing and blocking schemes on offense.
You don’t find many tight ends that possess the traits and overall skill set that Robinson brings to the table in each recruiting cycle. That is why head coach Steve Sarkisian and tight ends coach/specials teams coordinator Jeff Banks are going to throw everything they have at this recruitment heading into the fall.
There is one tight end that Sark has coached up in the past that has some valid comps with Robinson, though. In terms of the skill set and physical tools, there are some similarities you could draw between Robinson and the former Washington Huskies standout tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Some of the staples of Seferian-Jenkins’ game coming out of college were his insane athletic build, gifted vertical ability, reliable hands, large catch radius, and the overall fact of him being a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The 6-foot-6 and 255-pound Seferian-Jenkins was a load for any opposing defense to handle.
He was too quick for most bigger linebackers to handle in pass coverage and too big for most cornerbacks to match up with. And his large frame also let him often win his blocking assignments, whether it be off the line of scrimmage or downfield, in the ground game.
The effectiveness of Seferian-Jenkins in the passing game was evidenced by him raking in 146 career receptions for nearly 2,000 receiving yards and 21 touchdown catches. Seferian-Jenkins was also able to translate his proficiency as a blocking tight end, especially on run plays, to the NFL level.
Texas football could use the comp between 5-Star TE Duce Robinson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins as a pitch
These are all traits that could be expressed in a scouting report for Robinson. The difference is that Robinson takes all of these traits to a different level compared with Seferian-Jenkins.
Robinson is a faster version of Seferian-Jenkins that has better hands and a larger wingspan. He doesn’t have the same muscle mass on his frame yet, but it’s definitely not out of the question for Robinson to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle mass to his frame by the time his collegiate career is underway.
There are still some strides that Robinson must make as a blocking tight end, but developing that level of scheme versatility and understanding of blocking assignments at different levels of the defense will be emphasized for him at the next level.
Robinson being a multi-sport athlete in football and baseball also gives him a level of hand/eye coordination that wasn’t proven for Seferian-Jenkins. That will allow Robinson to high point the football and come down with more contested catches than the former Washington star.
What Texas would be able to do with Robinson in this offense would be much more dynamic than anything we saw Sark do with Seferian-Jenkins at Washington. Sark loved to use Washington quarterbacks, namely Keith Price, in play-action to get the opposing defense to bite and get Seferian-Jenkins open in the flat to gain yards in chunks.
Seferian-Jenkins would present such a daunting matchup for opposing defenses in those situations that he was able to break open in the blink of an eye and easily get behind the defender in pass coverage.
Sark also effectively utilized Seferian-Jenkins as a mismatch in the red zone and even as a stand-up receiver out of the slot. But that is where Seferian-Jenkins was most effective during his time at Washington.
He didn’t possess the speed or agility necessary to run the route tree that a traditional wideout would at Washington. And he also didn’t have quite the leaping ability necessary to commonly bring down contested 50/50 balls as an outside receiving threat.
Seferian-Jenkins was gifted vertically, but not to the degree of someone like Robinson or definitely a traditional outside receiver like Isaiah Neyor.
This is where Robinson can really become a special threat in the passing game for this offense. Sark could motion Robinson out and use him all over the place in the passing game. Robinson’s speed and potential as a downfield blocker would also allow him to thrive as a receiver essentially lining up anywhere on the line of scrimmage.
Layer in the fact that Robinson would have Arch throwing him the ball in this offense, and the thought of what this passing game could become is absolutely mind-boggling.
If nothing else, Sark and Banks should be pitching Robinson on a role that would essentially see him be a do-it-all 2.0 version of Seferian-Jenkins in this offense. I do firmly believe that Robinson is more gifted than Seferian-Jenkins and has a higher ceiling both at the collegiate and NFL levels.
But only time will tell if the Texas staff can do enough to get Robinson interested in taking his talents to the Forty Acres over USC.
Robinson will take his official visit to Texas for that massive game weekend where Sark and the Longhorns face the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sep. 10. That is sure to wind up being a pivotal weekend on the recruiting trail for the Longhorns 2023 class, not to mention the stakes for the team on the field.