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Texas recruiting: Tight end remains a position of need

Tight end is a position of need with few good in-state options available.

Will Gragg at the Dallas NFTC
Will Gragg at the Dallas NFTC
Wescott Eberts (SB Nation)

PreviouslyQBRB | WR

Needs: Two

Commitments: None


  • Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias' Hale Hentges (committed to Alabama)
  • Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic's Devonaire Clarington
  • Houston Clear Lake's Jordan Davis (committed to Texas A&M)
  • Dumas (Ark.)'s Will Gragg
  • Fayetteville (Ark.)'s CJ O'Grady (committed to Arkansas)
  • Iowa Western's Andrew Davis (committed to Illinois)

Moving forward: Perhaps no other episode put into stark contrast the vast differences between what the coaches at Texas are selling and what the coaches at Texas A&M are selling than the experience of Jordan Davis at the Texas spring game and the subsequent comments that he made to TexAgs:

The visit for Orange-White game was the second by Davis to Texas during 2014, indicating a not-insignificant level of interest in the program that likely fizzled to nothing following his negative experience in April.

Unfortunately, losing Davis to Texas A&M wasn't just about losing the state's top tight end recruit to a recruiting rival -- it was the only opportunity Texas had to land a perceived difference-maker at the position from inside the state.

Among the ranked players in the state, there are only five total tight ends, with the top two other than Davis both already committed. And Marble Falls Faith Academy product Hanner Shipley already weighs north of 280 pounds, making him unlikely to end up at tight end in college. Beyond Shipley and Rice commit Hunter Herndon of North Forney, the final two on the list are both ranked as two-star prospects.

Beyond the state borders, the news hasn't been any better. Iowa Western target Andrew Davis committed to Illinois without ever visiting Austin. Neither did Hale Hentges or CJ O'Grady.

Devonaire Clairington could visit at some point during the remainder of the summer or in the fall, but he's considered a virtual lock to hometown Miami and has been a frequent visitor on the Coral Gable campus in recent months. One trip to Austin, whether in the coming weeks or on an official visit would be unlikely to be enough to secure a pledge from him.

On the list of players currently possessing offers, that leaves only Will Gragg. For the last several months, the Longhorns have been in the strongest position with Gragg of any offered prospects. He may take several more visits to Austin before making his decision and with Arkansas now holding two commitments from other tight ends and Gragg saying that he won't take an official visit to Fayetteville, Texas is likely among his leaders.

The strong perceived position hasn't led to any big changes in his Crystal Ball, however, where Arkansas still leads. And the team that has been making a strong move isn't Texas, but rather Ole Miss at 33%, with many of those predictions coming from analysts who initially thought Arkansas would be his school of choice. So far, only Horns247's Jeff Howe has placed his faith in Gragg signing with the Horns come next February.

Including Davis, the top four junior college tight ends at the moment are also committed to other schools, leaving only two uncommitted three-star tight ends, as a third is pledged to South Alabama. As a result, it may be hard for Texas to find a prospect like Blake Whiteley or even Geoff Swaim from the junior college ranks for a third straight year.

Since the tight end scholarship chart stands at one for the 2016 season, this is a major position of need -- if the Horns can't add two 2015 prospects, the pressure to add two in the 2016 class will be significant. In that group, Flower Mound Marcus product Kaden Smith is the only player currently ranked among the top 100 in the LSR, so there may not be a lot of in-state options in the next class, either.

So right now, 2015 recruiting at the position is Will Gragg or bust.

Not exactly an ideal position to be in for an out-of-state product with no real longstanding ties to the Longhorns and only two other top-20 national tight ends still uncommitted.