A key cog for the passing game for second-year head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Texas football program this fall will be the starting trio of wide receivers that features star sophomore Xavier Worthy, redshirt junior Jordan Whittington, and redshirt sophomore Isaiah Neyor. Texas has a loaded receiving corps this year that should help improve this offense as a whole this coming season.
The depth in this wide receiver room is surely much more prevalent than last season. But some of the returning players, such as Whittington and Worthy, are still going to play a huge role in the success of this offense this fall.
The focal point in this article here, though, will be Whittington.
This speedy and elusive former five-star recruit will be starting Week 1, barring any injuries in fall camp, for the Longhorns out of the slot against Louisiana-Monroe at home on Sep. 3. Whittington has remained the starter for the Longhorns at the h-wide receiver position when healthy throughout much of the last three years.
When healthy, Whittington gives this offense another dynamic, especially in the passing game. He’s a load to bring down as he can pick up yards in chunks after the catch. His speed and agility coming out of the slot also presents matchup issues for most opposing defenses.
An underrated part of Whittington’s game, though, is the threat he poses in the middle of the field. Whittington is great at working in tight windows and running quick and effective intermediate routes. That tends to translate to success on targets in the passing game between the numbers.
And that is certainly the case when looking at Whittington’s production between the numbers for the last couple of seasons, more specifically last fall.
In the last two seasons, Whittington has registered 36 catches on targets between the numbers, good for 460 receiving yards, and three touchdown catches.
Texas football has a bona fide threat between the numbers in WR Jordan Whittington
He was the most productive receiver between the numbers for Texas since the start of the 2020 season.
But it’s not just the regular counting stats that impress for Whittington in the last couple of seasons. It’s how he gets it done. Whittington is extremely efficient working in the tight areas and tight windows that come with running short and intermediate routes between the numbers.
That’s evident by his nine avoided tackles and 240 yards after the catch on receptions between the numbers since 2020. Missed tackles forced are very difficult to rack in the quantity that Whittington did in the last two seasons when working in the crowded areas of the middle of the field.
It takes a special type of elusiveness and acceleration to beat opposing defenders between the numbers the way that Whittington does. He is able to turn on the jets and leave opposing linebackers and safeties in the dust once he’s able to reel in catches, especially on intermediate routes in the middle of the field.
What can’t be ignored about Whittington’s potency in the middle of the field is the strength he runs with. Whittington showed the ability to carry multiple defenders on his back while picking up yards after the catch and after initial contact throughout his days as a slot receiver dating back to his time at Cuero High School.
Moreover, if you combine the effectiveness that Whittington brings to the table as a threat between the numbers along with his potency as a quick and elusive slot receiver, you get a real game-changer with him in the passing game. That’s why it’s so crucial that Whittington stays healthy throughout the 2022 season.
The good news for Sark and new wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator this year is that there is a lot more depth among slot wideouts than in the last few seasons. Texas added a real speedster and dynamic slot wideout in the 2022 recruiting class in the track star Brenen Thompson. We also shouldn’t ignore what the Longhorns are getting in a proven Big 12 slot wideout in the former Iowa State Cyclones senior grad transfer Tarique Milton.
Texas has more depth in the receiving corps out of the slot behind Whittington than in the last two years. That inspires confidence as to how proficient this passing game could be throughout the season ahead.
Texas finished up last season with a record of 5-7 (3-6 Big 12), missing out on bowl season for the first time since 2016. Whittington and the Longhorns will open up the 2022 regular season at home on Sep. 3 against Louisiana-Monroe. And fall camp is set to begin on Aug. 4.