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Texas TE signee Peyton Aucoin ready to do the dirty work

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Role players like the New Orleans product help teams with the little things that can ultimately make a big difference.

Peyton Aucoin with Jeff Traylor
Peyton Aucoin with Jeff Traylor
via @peytonaucoin1

There's nothing fancy about 2016 Texas Longhorns tight end signee Peyton Aucoin (OH-kwin), a 6'5, 240-pound blocking specialist out of Brother Martin in New Orleans. But perhaps that provides all the more reason to respect his game -- in high school, he understood what his team wanted out of him and he did it, no complaints.

Alabama signee Irvin Smith was the pass catcher and Aucoin did the dirty work in the trenches opening up running games for a powerful Brother Martin rushing attack that averaged 45 points and over 500 total yards of offense every game in 2015.

So there's no doubt in head coach Charlie Strong's mind about what Aucoin can do to help the Longhorns.

"A really good blocker, and I know he can capture the edge of a defense for us and let us run the ball," Strong said on National Signing Day.

Unsurprisingly, the rankings for Aucoin are pretty modest, as befitting a role player whose efforts didn't show up in the individual box scores -- a consensus three-star prospect rated .8453 in the 247Sports Composite rankings, he was the No. 952 player nationally, the No. 48 tight end, and the No. 46 player in Louisiana.

However, just like his effectiveness as a blocker didn't result in individual stats, his value to the Longhorns program isn't reflected in his rankings -- it's in how much he can help the offense and the fact that he committed early and followed through on his intent to sign with Texas.

Aucoin collected more than 20 offers during the recruiting process, including Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, NC State, Northwestern, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Note the academic prestige of Northwestern and Vanderbilt and then consider that if Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh wanted Aucoin, it's because Harbaugh saw him as a potentially integral part of the power rushing attack under construction in Ann Arbor.

A summer pledge for Texas at a time when commitments were few and far between for Strong and his staff, Aucoin took a late June visit to Florida, then decided to end his recruitment a little more than a month later while in Austin.

Over the following six months, he never wavered and nearly played an important role in bringing Smith with him. Unfortunately, a late surge by the Crimson Tide was too much for the 'Horns to overcome.

As the only tight end signee who will qualify in the last two classes and the only true tight end signee since Blake Whiteley in 2014, the fact that Aucoin should be a known commodity in an area of need for Texas is hardly unsubstantial. Consider, for instance, that current H-back and former linebacker signee Andrew Beck has struggled at times with his blocking. While Caleb Bluiett was a revelation last year, he will exhaust his eligibility this season. Whiteley, on the other hand, is still an unknown commodity after redshirting and then suffering a season-ending injury in fall camp last year that kept him out of action this spring.

So the easy comparison for Aucoin is to current Dallas Cowboys tight end Geoff Swaim, an unknown junior college prospect taken by former offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin who was the best blocker Texas has had at the position in years.

The three major question marks with Aucoin are whether he can play H-back after serving almost exclusively as an in-line player in high school, whether he has any upside as a pass catcher after hauling in only one as a senior, and where his body will take him. Currently at 240 pounds, it may be a stretch to imagine that he could eventually gain 60 pounds and play offensive tackle, but he could certainly become a devastating blocker at around 260 or so, while still retaining some athleticism to run pass routes. Ultimately, making plays in the passing game isn't why the Texas staff wanted him and would be an added bonus.

He's a solid athlete and good stalk blocker in space who obviously has the willingness to finish plays, so it's possible that he could contribute as a freshman in the same role he played in high school. Even if it takes a year or so to make an impact, Aucoin has the look of a player with a high floor who could become a favorite of fans who appreciate subtle contributions to winning efforts.

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