The 'Horns are looking at a Bayou State tight end
Every year there is a surprise Junior Day visitor for the 'Horns and 2013 was no different.
When the Texas Longhorns hosted star New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr defensive end Gerald Willis for the second Junior Day last Saturday, what Willis didn't tell the services was that he brought along one of his teammates, 2014 tight end Anthony Jones.
The Edna Karr lineup last fall was pretty salty on the offensive side of the ball, featuring as it did speedy 2014 wide receiver Speedy Noil and four-star 2013 tight end Standish Dobard, who signed with Miami.
As a result, there weren't a lot of catches to go around for Jones, who stands at 6-6, 215 pounds and holds offers from Louisville, Louisiana-Monroe, and Tulane.
When the news broke from Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas that Jones had visited and received an offer, the initial news was that Texas was at the top of the list for the athletic basketball player who is recent to football:
New #UT TE offer Anthony Jones (New Orleans) has Texas on top of his list. Decision likely this spring. Big kid (6-6) that moves well.— Jason Suchomel (@jsuchomel) February 26, 2013
However, as is often the case with the Longhorns, for whatever reason, Jones was simply mistaken about being offered:
Per a source: #Texas did not offer Anthony Jones, TE of Edna Karr (La.) this past weekend.— Kevin Flaherty (@LonghornDigest) February 26, 2013
That report was eventually confirmed by the other services, which wasn't surprising because Flaherty's source in this instance was beyond reproach.
Still, Jones is high on the Longhorns and has plans to visit again some time this spring, at which point he could end up leaving a commit if he receives an offer and his recruitment doesn't take off before then. Watch for Jones' stock to take off during the spring evaluation period since he had so little opportunity to put anything on film last year.
A possible flex tight end prospect since he has a ways to go physically to add the mass and strength necessary to play as an in-line tight end, Jones has the fluidity one would expect from a basketball player. In terms of athleticism, he's quite similar to former Texas star Jermichael Finley, who had a similar build coming out of high school and similar basketball talents.
How athletic is Jones? He can outrun some defenders in the open field based on his limited highlights and even showed off a spin move to break some tackles in traffic.
The in-state group of tight ends is particularly weak this year in Texas, with possible offensive tackle/defensive end Koda Martin of Manvel at the top of the list, though the 'Horns haven't shown much interest in the coach's son to this point. Unless a prospect emerges during the spring or the fall worthy of an offer, the staff will have to look other places to find the two tight ends the 2014 class needs.
Arizona product Mark Andrews, who is like Jones in that he's basically an oversized receiver, would be one possible target and he's heard a bit from the staff, but the interest isn't yet serious though his recruitment has taken off nationally.
Texas should have gotten in on his recruitment months ago. In fact, it's hard to understand what the staff has been waiting for at the position. For some in-state star to suddenly emerge from nowhere like manna from the sky? For the top national prospects to blow up their phones begging for offers? Begging to commit?
As the Jones situation illustrates once again, the staff struggles to effectively communicate to kids whether or not they even have an offer. Doesn't seem like something that should be difficult.
Jones may be a project and will need some time to develop in college, though he's a better fit now that there's actually a flex tight end position again, even if the coaches have been trying to take guys with more blocking experience. Continuing to evaluate him while maintaining a strong position in his recruitment will be crucial moving forward for no other reason than the simple fact that there isn't anyone else out there.
Those ideal prospects aren't available in Texas this year past Martin and the national prospects have already have advanced recruitments.
Once again, it feels like somebody is asleep at the wheel here -- a comprehensive plans needs to develop, and quickly, because waiting and continuing to evaluate while failing to effectively communicate a player's offer status isn't much of a plan at all.