After a Tuesday that was full of bad news on the recruiting trail for the Texas Longhorns, the commitment of Arizona Western tight end Blake Whiteley, as reported by multiple outlets.
The 6'5, 240-pound Canadian has four years to play three seasons of football after spending one year at Arizona Western after receiving little interest out of Vancouver when his high school career ended in 2013. Rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports, the service has Whiteley as the No. 1 JUCO tight end in the country, the No. 2 JUCO prospect in Arizona, and the No. 24 JUCO prospect overall.
Texas was the choice over offers from Arkansas, Virginia, Purdue, TCU, West Virginia, and a host of smaller schools. Whiteley had taken an official visit to see the Razorbacks days before visiting the Longhorns and Bret Beliema's program was considered the biggest competition for Texas.
The easy comparison with Whiteley is the fellow JUCO product Geoff Swaim, who was the most effective blocker for Texas after enrolling early out of Butte CC in California. Like Swaim, Whiteley looks like a passable athlete in the passing game, though he doesn't project as a difference maker there -- his value in college will likely also be in the run game.
For perspective on Whiteley's impact in the passing game, he had eight catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns during his season at Western.
However, Whiteley was much more productive in high school, accumulating 68 catches for 1,118 yards and 16 touchdowns.
As the above highlight shows, Whiteley has body control that equals or better his athleticism, allowing him to twist to make plays on the football. Equally impressive is his ability to catch outside the framework of his body, high-pointing the football when necessary and bending and diving to make plays on balls closer to the ground.
There's not a great deal of advanced route running or much after the catch ability, but that's not overly surprising given the position -- there are only a handful of tight ends in the world capable of making defenders miss on a consistent basis.
So, at the least, there is evidence of Whiteley showing skills that should help endear him to his quarterbacks at Texas after the two high-profile drops by Swaim in the Alamo Bowl -- Whiteley has made tough catches in competitive environments.
Utilized often as a move blocker at Butte College, Swaim really had a chance to put some vicious hits on opponents with momentum already generated coming out of the backfield or moving across the formation, a fact that rather colors a viewing of Whiteley's film at Arizona Western, where the Canadian product is also a highly effective blocker, but from a mostly in-line position.
Whiteley may not be as versatile as the current Longhorn -- there's certainly no way from the Western film to tell, really -- but he is persistent enough with his leg drive and good enough with his hand placement to get his fair share of pancakes.
Even in-line though, it looks like Whiteley doesn't quite have the same roll as Swaim through the hips that helps produce his power, but Whiteley's also a year younger in the trenches a position that requires some hard work to develop the strength to root out defenders even at the junior-college level.
At a position where the outgoing coaching staff appeared to have little or no plan for most of the process, landing the best junior college tight end in the country, a player who has benefited from a year of maturation and strength training out of high school and still has four years to play three seasons, is a major coup for a program that desperately needed to at least find a body at the position.
Consider Whiteley perhaps the best body legitimately available to the Longhorns.