Last week saw reports on the recruiting interwebs of several new offers for the 2016 and 2017 classes by the Texas Longhorn football staff. Among those being newly offered was 2017 tight end Brock Wright (Houston Cy-Fair), a consensus four-star recruit and currently the top-rated national TE recruit in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.
For a visual demonstration of why he is so highly rated, see his sophomore highlights, which as of this writing (late Monday night) have 2,224 views.
Wright was first mentioned on this site back on March 4th in a write-up on four of the top in-state tight end prospects in the 2017 class, the relevant paragraphs of which read thus:
Were he a junior right now he'd likely be the state's 2nd-ranked tight end behind Kaden Smith. Wright checks in at 6'4" and approximately 230 pounds, and according to the Houston Chronicle he caught 17 passes for 369 yards (22 yards/catch) and 2 TDs in 2014. He already appears to be well-built and a strong blocker for any age, and especially for a sophomore. Notably, he was named district 17-6A's first team tight end after the 2014 season, earning that honor ahead of second-teamer Jackson Solbeck, a Cypress Ranch senior who signed with New Mexico State four weeks ago.
247Sports' Brian Perroni put Wright high on his early list of the top 35 in-state prospects for the 2017 class, ranking him 10th in a group that also included the aforementioned Kedrick James (12th) and Chance McLeod (35th). A lot can happen in the next two years and Wright may not end up being the top TE in the state for 2017, but he already looks like a more complete player than every junior not named Kaden Smith, and I'd have no problem at all with Texas offering him early, as Texas A&M did at their Junior Day on January 25. (As it happens, A&M received a commitment this week from 2016 flex TE Zarrian Holcombe of Humble Summer Creek, and also offered Clemson TE commit - and grandson of Gene Stallings - J.C. Chalk of Argyle. Both were among the 2016 prospects I wrote about two weeks ago.)
Wright comes from an athletic family; his father, Len Wright, played football at Texas Tech and was the Red Raiders' starting center for the 1988 and 1989 seasons, his older sister Emily played volleyball also for the Red Raiders, and older brother Brady is currently a freshman defensive end at Rice. Also, one of his grandfathers played basketball at Penn State, while the other played football at West Texas A&M and in the CFL.
Worth noting: Len Wright was a teammate of James Gray at Texas Tech, the former star running back and father of current Longhorn running back reportedly still kept in touch as of two years ago. If UT ever begins to show serious interest in recruiting Brock Wright (and they should), he and his dad should know who to call to get an inside look at the Longhorn program., and the elder Wright and the elder Gray
At the time of that March piece, Wright already had offers from Rice and Texas A&M, and several more have followed since then, with Texas joining the fold last week. For being such a highly-rated prospect, he has kept a pretty low public profile; if you followed him on Twitter but not any recruiting bloggers/writers, you'd never know he has well over a dozen offers from major FBS power programs, and there have been several stories mentioning him but very few quoting him directly, for reasons you'll see momentarily.
Where does Texas stand with Brock Wright, what is he looking for in a college football program, and could he potentially switch positions in college? To attempt to answer those and other questions, I got in touch with his father, former Texas Tech offensive lineman Len Wright, who was very gracious in giving me a few minutes to speak with him. What follows is a slightly paraphrased transcription of our conversation from Monday afternoon.
Burnt Orange Nation: When did Brock find out about his offer from Texas, and which coach did he talk to?
Len Wright: I'm not sure of the date, but I believe it was the DB coach, Coach Vaughn, that he talked to. Before that there had been one or two UT coaches out at spring practice so Brock knew that they were there and that they'd be meeting and contemplating who they wanted to offer.
BON: And what was his and the family's reaction after the offer came down?
Wright: We were excited! The day before, Alabama had offered, and he's had a lot of activities going on this spring, coaches have been in every day. UT was one of the later ones among the big programs to show up and become involved in his recruitment, so when he heard from them he was really excited. And we were as well. Although I'm a Red Raider, that's a great program with so much prestige, so it was exciting for everyone.
BON: So he hadn't had much contact with UT before getting his offer besides coaches seeing him in practice?
Wright: I think they may have had one brief visit. He [Brock] puts a high emphasis on the academic side and he's looking at studying business. So he looks at UT's ranking there compared with Stanford and Notre Dame and some of the other schools that have been recruiting him.
BON: How many offers is he up to now?
Wright: Oh gosh! I'm not sure, over 20 I would imagine.
[Author's note: Wright's 247Sports profile currently lists 17 offers: Alabama, Baylor, Boston College, Duke, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Rice, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Tulsa. Interestingly - because of how the rest of our conversation went - Stanford is not listed as an offer, but I doubt that remains the case for long.]
BON: If it's not 20 yet I'm sure it will be before long!
Wright: (laughs) Yeah, when we were at OU for their Junior Day, they offered him and Coach Stoops told me just wait, it's gonna happen [Brock's recruitment blowing up], and then, sure enough, within weeks several offers started coming in.
BON: Has he had a chance to visit the UT campus yet?
Wright: Not yet, we are looking to get there between now and June 20th. We're going to Stanford June 6th, Michigan on the 18th, and Notre Dame on the 19th.
BON: You were teammates with James Gray [former All-American running back and father of Longhorn RB Johnathan Gray] at Texas Tech, and I know you two still keep in touch. Have you had a chance to talk with him or Johnathan about their experience with UT and with Coach Strong?
Wright: I've talked with James a lot. As a matter of fact, back when we hadn't heard from Texas yet, I called James and told him, "You might want to let the coaches know there's a kid they need to take a look at!" I have not talked with Johnathan, but I'll probably get together with James and get his advice on things. He's one of my best friends, and I'd trust anything he'll have to say.
BON: Do you think the recruiting process will be easier for Brock since he's had two older siblings who have already gone through it?
Wright: Yeah, I think so. They're really proud of him. His older brother [Rice defensive end Brady Wright] is intimately involved in helping him through the process and going through the pros and cons.
BON: I've noticed that, unlike most high-profile recruits these days, Brock doesn't maintain a big presence on social media sites. He has a Twitter profile but doesn't post on it often, sometimes going a few weeks or a month between tweets, and I've never seen him use it as a platform for announcing offers he has received or for re-tweeting articles mentioning him. Can we read into that that he's an all-business type who doesn't get caught up in recruiting hype?
Wright: You can. He's definitely all business and very serious about it. He has declined almost every interview request he's received, and he has no interest in going to camps just to try and upgrade his status. In some of our visits we've seen guys who were really boastful about having 50-60 offers or having five stars, and none of that interests him at all. We were leaving Texas A&M after their Junior Day and he told me, "I'm not gonna post about any of this stuff. I don't need people to know my business."
BON: Does he plan on visiting any schools this summer besides the ones you already named: Texas, Stanford, Michigan, and Notre Dame?
Wright: I think that's all we're gonna do. We only have the resources to make so many of those trips.
BON: Is that for all trips or just trips to visit the out-of-state schools?
Wright: Those are really the ones he wants to see that we haven't seen yet. For the in-state schools we've already been to Baylor multiple times and have a good feel for them, and we've been to A&M for both a game and Junior Day.
BON: How big is Brock now?
Wright: He's right around 6'5" and about 242 pounds I think is what he was during a recent physical.
BON: How does that compare to what you were at his age?
Wright: (laughs) He's so much bigger than me. At that age I was probably about 6'3" and 195 pounds. Yeah, he's off the charts! And he has his mother's speed. My wife was a really good athlete as well. He didn't get his speed from my side!
BON: And how big were you when you were playing at Tech?
Wright: My freshman year at Tech I showed up at about 220. My sophomore season I was about 262, and my senior year  I finished up at 285-290.
BON: After he got his Texas offer I saw at least one fan on a UT message board wondering how big he was going to be as a high school senior or college freshman if he's already this big now. Do you think there's a chance he could outgrow the tight end position and perhaps get recruited by schools to play defensive end or on the offensive line?
Wright: Several schools have told him he could play either offense or defense. He's a 4.60 forty kid, jumps well, and though he's big he's still really lean. I think he may gain another 15-20 pounds and still be that 6'5" tight end that can run. He makes his living in the trenches, he likes to block and get dirty. When coaches have told him that he could play tight end or defensive end that just fires him up because he really wants to stay at tight end. He loves Rob Gronkowski, that's without a doubt his favorite player.
BON: With all the offers he has piled up it can be easy to forget that he's still just a sophomore and has two years of high school left to play and get better. In your opinion, what are the strongest parts of his game right now?
Wright: One, he plays in a great offense. We [Cy-Fair] run a pro-style offense with a fullback and tailback, they'll use single- and sometimes double-tight end sets. He's shown colleges that he can block down on a tackle, block out on a defensive end, he pulls and traps and runs a lot of routes out of that and I think he's really lucky to be in that kind of offense. And his blocking is exceptional and he runs really good routes.
He's looking for schools that really traditionally use tight ends well. We know what Jim Harbaugh is gonna do at Michigan. We know what Notre Dame and Stanford are gonna do with their tight ends. We're looking forward to seeing what Texas has planned for their tight ends in the coming years.
BON: If he ended up at Stanford that would just be unfair with them already having the kid from Flower Mound [2016 stud TE Kaden Smith, whose name I had momentarily forgotten] committed.
Wright: I know Kaden, his dad Mark is a good friend of mine. Brock met Kaden at A&M's Junior day and both Mark and Kaden have been great to Brock and I. They have been through this process and have offered great advice to us. Kaden is an exceptional football player and a great young man.
BON: Being a Texas Tech legacy, did Brock grow up a fan of the Red Raiders?
Wright: He's always been a big Tech fan, and then when his older brother went to Rice he became a big Rice fan. They [Rice] were Brock's first offer, and he's so young so we were shocked to get that offer, but they knew who they were offering. Their tight ends coach, David Sloan, he played tight end in the NFL several years and he's a real solid coach. I can't say enough good things about him.
BON: Your older son Brady committed to Rice early in the summer after his junior year of high school. Does Brock have any kind of timetable or goal for when he wants to commit to a school?
Wright: He has not said anything about it. He hasn't set a timetable yet, and we haven't asked him about it.
From what I've seen of Brock Wright's play - admittedly only in highlights - I would rate him above every tight end in the state other than Kaden Smith right now. And when the book is written on the tight ends the state produced between the 2013 and 2017 classes (of which I've written no small amount of words), I think Wright will go down as being one of the three or four best of them. And after talking with his dad about him, he's on my short list of favorite recruits for his class.
It's easy to see Wright in two years being as good as or better than Andrew Beck at just about everything Texas currently asks Beck to do at tight end/H-back. Because of Cy-Fair's style of offense, he is rarely used as anything other than an in-line tight end, and he doesn't spend much time in the slot or out wide like Kaden Smith, or fellow 2017 TE recruits Chance McLeod (Victoria East) and Major Tennison (Bullard), both of whom play in more spread-oriented offenses.
That's not to predict that Wright won't have the ability to line up in multiple spots and be both a legitimate receiving and blocking threat in college, though with as much pride as he takes in being a blocker in an offense that asks him to be one on the vast majority of his team's plays, it seems unlikely that he'd chafe at being asked to fulfill the duties Texas has assigned to Beck or the recently drafted Geoff Swaim, who were so seldom employed (effectively anyway) as receiving threats in 2014 that they combined for nearly half as many tackles (4) as receptions (10, all by Swaim). But to compete on the recruiting front with the recent success that Wright suitors Stanford and Notre Dame have had in producing quality tight ends, and with new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's history of effectively employing tight ends both at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers, my sense is that the Texas staff will have to show Wright that they value the tight end position as more than just an extra blocking surface and not as an offensive afterthought over the next two seasons (particularly in 2015) to have a serious shot at gaining his commitment for the 2017 class.
After a painfully inconsistent run in which Longhorn tight ends produced essentially the same number of total receptions in the past seven seasons (2008-2014) as they had during the David Thomas-Jermichael Finley heyday preceding them (2005-2007), let's hope 2015 will be the year their fortunes at the position start to turn around.