With the top in-state option at tight end already committed to the Texas A&M Aggies, the Texas Longhorns looked out of state over the weekend to extend an offer to Pine Bluff (Ark.) tight end Will Gragg.
The 6'4, 245-pounder already has near college-ready size, which is relatively unusual for high school tight ends, and is considered a consensus four-star prospect. In the 247Sports Composite rankings, he's rated as the No. 4 tight end, the No. 2 player in Arkansas, and the No. 131 player in the country.
After adding an offer from Florida State on Sunday, Gragg now has 12 offers. Arkansas was the first to offer the home-grown tight end, joined later by programs like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State -- as a national product, there is some serious competitions for his services.
Gragg also has an offer from Louisville, presumably from when Strong was there, so even though it was tight ends coach Bruce Chambers who extended the offer, Gragg may have some familiarity with quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson.
Arkansas is considered the early favorite for Gragg, with Alabama also seen as a strong contender, but he told Inside Texas that he grew up a Texas fan because of Vince Young and didn't become interested in the Razorbacks until his older brother played there. That tie and the proximity of Fayetteville could eventually benefit Arkansas tremendously.
However, Gragg did say that he wants to visit Texas. It won't happen for the upcoming Junior Day because of previous plans, but if he does make it onto campus, his longtime interest in the program should help the Horns enter into contention for his eventual signature. Maybe even Vince Young could make an appearance sine he's been around Austin and isn't particularly busy these days.
As a prospect, Gragg already has experience as both an in-line blocker from his tight end position and as a flexed wide receiver, where he's highly effective on fade routes in the end zone with his nearly 33-inch vertical. The shuttle for Gragg at an NFTC event was a rather modest 4.58, however, suggesting that his 40 time is probably somewhere between 4.8 and 5.0.
Regardless of testing, Gragg appears to be a fluid athlete with nice acceleration for his size -- there's some definite high-level athleticism there for a 245-pound junior. Used frequently in the tight end screen game and down the seam on play-action passes, Gragg has experience as a route-runner, if not a great deal of polish in terms of crispness with his breaks. He can also make some defenders miss after the catch and can break some tackles when he gets behind his pads and drives his legs on contact.
Overall, Gragg has the size, pass-catching ability, and in-line experience to project as a true dual threat tight end capable of contributing early.
The new Texas staff has already formulated a plan to find a prep tight end in the 2015 class. Now the hard part begins -- convincing a prospect from SEC country to abandon a chance to play in the nation's toughest conference to leave his home state for a Longhorn program attempting to rebuild.