In a deep 2016 in-state tight ends class, the Texas Longhorns have already missed on the top four prospects with Saturday's pledge of Flower Mound Marcus standout Kaden Smith to the Stanford Cardinal.
The decision from the state's highest-rated tight end prospect in a decade was hardly a surprise, as Smith took numerous visits to Palo Alto and was high on the Cardinal throughout the process -- for a player his position, it's hard to pass up the opportunity to play in that offense and receive an education of the highest quality.
Clemson tight end commit JC Chalk could still be in line for an offer if he visits Austin, but he merely considers Texas a back-up plan in the event of major coaching changes at Clemson, the school that currently holds his pledge.
That leaves the Longhorns in pursuit of Aggies tight end commit Zarrian Holcombe, who received his offer from Texas last week during the run of out-of-state offers, and Red Raiders commit Donte Coleman, an emerging star at West Mesquite with a versatile skill set.
However, unless things change with Holcombe or Coleman, new Longhorns tight ends coach Jeff Traylor will have to look out of state to fill the two assigned spots in the 2016 class.
Traylor took the first steps last week in offering three prospects from nearby states.
Jack Stoll, Lakewood (Colo.) Regis Jesuit
Texas was the first major program to offer the 6'5, 225-pounder who plays numerous roles for his high school, working as a move blocker, a tight end, and a wide receiver. Stoll doesn't catch a ton of passes, but he reports a 4.68 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical, backing up those claims with strong movement ability on film.
The offer from the Longhorns last week came as he was doing homework and received a call from his coach, who had Traylor on the phone, Stoll told Burnt Orange Nation last week. The Colorado product called Texas an "unbelievable" program and believes that head coach Charlie Strong will return it to competitiveness.
A possible visitor for the spring game, Stoll wants to trip to Austin as soon as possible and will almost certainly have the Horns on his final list of schools after the spring evaluation period.
One critical question is whether the Longhorns offer will significantly spur his recruitment. Visits to Colorado, Nebraska, and Wisconsin could happen in the near future after trips to Colorado State and Wyoming for Junior Days.
Looking for a school that will prepare him for life after football, run a scheme that will showcase his skills, and provide a comfortable atmosphere, Stoll believes that Texas can offer all of that and wants to get to know the coaching staff better when he does visit.
Peyton Aucoin, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin
From the Dallas area, Aucoin called the Texas offer "pretty big" in an interview with Horn Sports and said that he wants to visit soon. Not as highly ranked as his teammate, Aucoin is more of a pure blocking tight end who bills his physicality as one of his best attributes. On film, he backs it up, as that's his primary occupation, showing good persistence, hand placement, and feet to maintain his blocks.
His upside as a pass-catcher is difficult to determine, but even if he pledges to Texas and only makes an impact in the running game, he's a worthy take since that blocking ability is a key to make any offense go, as Geoff Swaim so ably and effectively demonstrated during his two years on campus.
Irvin Smith, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin
Arizona State, Miami, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest are the best offers for Smith, who called Texas "a dream school of mine." The 6'4, 230-pounder receives more targets in the passing game than Aucoin, flashing some ability to catch passes in the flat, on crossing routes, and running the seam, then stepping out of tackles to create some explosive plays.
At tight end, it's not necessarily about landing a guy like Kaden Smith, thought that would obviously be ideal, it's about doing deep evaluations across the country and finding recruits with some physical upside who can provide versatility in a number of different roles, but at the least do one thing extremely well. Everything else being equal, that skill set should be blocking.
If Texas can't flip Coleman or Holcombe, landing two of the three out-of-state prospects would look like a success for the Longhorns, with Stoll possessing the most versatile skill set, Aucoin looking like the best blocker, and Smith showing the most evidence of pass-catching ability.