While the parting of the Texas Longhorns and former 2014 commit John Thomas may have been building for a while, the coaching staff didn't reveal their next move at the position until Wednesday evening, when news broke from multiple outlets that an offer has gone out to Arizona Western tight end Blake Whiteley.
The 6'5, 240-pounder was a full qualifier out of high school in Vancouver and has four years to play three seasons, making him an ideal candidate for the program's needs -- he has the extra experience out of high school at a higher level of play, while still providing they type of long-term solution currently missing from the roster.
In fact, with Greg Daniels and Geoff Swaim both returning next season to provide the bulk of the blocking at the position, redshirting Whiteley if he isn't ready to play would represent the best option currently available to the Longhorns at tight end to make a difference years down the road.
But that's getting ahead of things.
Other schools the offer to consensus three-star prospect rated as the top JUCO tight end by 247Sports include Arkansas, TCU, Purdue, Virginia, and West Virginia, among a few others.
The good news is that Whiteley is expected to take a visit for the football banquet next week.
Visits to Purdue and Virginia are already in the books and he was planning on visiting Arkansas next Friday, but is apparently postponing the trip to Fayetteville in order to make it to Austin, a decision that may shed some light on what he thinks about those two programs. A full gauge on that take, of course, if he does actually can that visit to see the Razorbacks and trips to see the Longhorn program instead.
The easy comparison with Whiteley is the fellow JUCO product Swaim. 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.
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 Wester, 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.
The coaching staff hasn't appeared to have much of a plan at the position through most of the process other than taking Thomas early, realizing he couldn't enroll early and might not qualify, and waiting for a player like Whiteley to emerge.
It's happened finally and the Longhorns appear well positioned to land a crucial piece to the 2014 class. Maybe it wasn't such a bad plan after all.