Remember the last time that the Texas Longhorns had a tight end who could hold up at the point of attack as a blocker and threaten defenses with legitimate pass-catching ability? If it's difficult, it's because it's been years since Texas has had a tight end on campus with the dual-threat potential that 2017 tight end commit Major Tennison possesses.
It's been more than a decade in fact -- think back to David Thomas, the maestro of stick routes with Vince Young. But even Thomas lacked ideal height for in-line blocking duties at 6'3.
Not so for Tennison, who goes 6'6 and 245 pounds now and looks every inch of it. Just check out this picture from Saturday's Junior Day in Austin. There's Tennison on the right with quarterback commit Sam Ehlinger (far left) and wide receiver commit Damion Miller. Ehlinger is listed at 6'1 and Miller at 6'2.
It's certainly not out of the question that Tennison could grow into an offensive lineman, but given his fluidity and good top-end speed for a prospect of his size, it would be a shame for the Longhorns to lose such a talented tight end prospect to position coach Matt Mattox and his machinations.
That's because football film isn't the only evidence of Tennison's athleticism -- as a sophomore, he was the district Newcomer of the Year on the hardwood and ran on Bullard's 4x400 relay team, posting an excellent time for someone he went 6'5 and arounds 210 pounds at the time. He also caught 20 passes for 379 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. After picking up an offer from Texas and quickly committing last October, he finished his junior season with 24 catches for 541 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a blocker, he tends to play rather straight up and doesn't show a lot of pop through his hips, but he's effective because of his size and effort. And his speed suggests some flexibility in there once he refines his technique, as his 2015 roles demanded much more blocking than in 2014.
As a receiver, he lines up all over the field for Bullard, so he has extensive experience in both phases of the game. For evidence of the speed that made him an effective track athlete, check out the 6:00 mark of his junior highlights, where he runs past a defender and then breaks a tackle after hauling in the underthrown pass. Dude can move.
If Texas tight ends coach Jeff Traylor can finish with Tennison by landing his signature next February, it will be a major coup for the program after such a long drought at the position. Even 2015 US Army All-American and top-10 tight end Devonaire Clarington wasn't as well-rounded at the end the process as Tennison is now. And Clarington was the best prospect the Longhorns signed at tight end since Jermichael Finley, who was underutilized in the passing game and was never much of a blocker for Texas. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to qualify.
And so that if with Traylor is important, because Tennison has given multiple interviews recently in which he expressed a desire to continue listening to other schools. Nebraska and Michigan, in particular, have remained in pursuit. However, the Junior Day visit for Tennison was extremely important, since it allowed him to receive the in-person pitch from new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert about how he would be used in the veer-and-shoot attack Gilbert employs.
The impact of that discussion, it seems, was favorable, but don't be surprised if Tennison does take a visit or two in the coming months.
For whatever reason, Tennison is not yet a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings or the 247Sports rankings, slotting at No. 15 nationally among tight ends and No. 70 in the state of Texas in the Composite, but there's no question that his value to the Longhorns is much higher. And his skill set deserving of a boost.
Now it's up to Traylor and Ehlinger to make sure he remains a member of the class, regardless of what happens with his rankings.