The middle of July marked Bullard tight end Major Tennison’s decommitment from the Texas Longhorns, but with area recruiter and potential position coach Jeff Traylor continuing to target the East Texas product, there may still be a chance for the ‘Horns.
So, yes, Texas remains in the mix and Wells doesn’t believe that there’s a leader for the 6’6, 245-pounder, despite all the expectations that Tennison would quickly commit to the Crimson Tide on a visit a week after his decision to open up his recruitment.
That pledge never materialized and Alabama then accepted a commitment from Waco La Vega’s Kedrick James 10 days after Tennison visited Tuscaloosa.
But with a host of talented tight ends on the roster who currently have two or more years of eligibility like freshmen Irvin Smith and Miller Forristall and sophomore Hale Hentges, the Tide have plenty of depth at the position, not to mention limited spots in a class that already features 21 pledges.
The difficulty for the Texas is that even though Alabama may not be the option it appeared to be a month ago, Arkansas, Georgia, and Michigan are all schools that remain in play for Tennison and received recent visits from the consensus three-star prospect.
What can the ‘Horns do to earn further consideration and perhaps even a rare, John Burt-esque re-commitment?
Tennison’s language when he announced his decommitment clearly highlighted his concerns.
“Unfortunately, I feel that UT is no longer the best place for me to become the best player that I can be,” he wrote.
Now, Tennison wasn’t talking about Traylor’s ability to develop tight ends, as he likely feels comfortable with the ace recruiter. Rather, he’s expressing his continued concern that Sterlin Gilbert’s offense won’t adequately feature his position.
There are certainly some questions about whether that’s the case with persistent rumblings that Gilbert isn’t concerned about having a dual-threat option at the position where former Baylor head coach Art Briles used converted offensive linemen like Tre’Von Armstead and LaQuon McGowan as one-dimensional mobile blocking surfaces.
Hence, Tennison is hoping that the offense will present him with a viable opportunity, r not merely considering the Longhorns as one potential option. He still wants to go to Texas, he just doesn’t believe that Gilbert’s offense can make him the best player that he can be.
The take here remains that a dual-threat tight end is valuable in any offense and that Gilbert would find a way to use a player like Tennison. The problem is that it’s going to take some big plays in the passing game from senior Caleb Bluiett and junior Andrew Beck to convince Tennison that Gilbert is even willing to use his tight ends.
In the absence of that, Traylor and Gilbert would have to sell the Bullard product in part on replicating the role of a tall inside receiver like juniors Jake Oliver and Dorian Leonard, who both have a chance to get reps there this season.
Perhaps that may be the better option, as Tennison is unique in that he not only has high school experience as an in-line blocker, he’s also spent extensive time flexed out as a wide receiver and moves well, compelling reasons illustrating why he’s more valuable than his ranking as the No. 11 tight end in the country.
The unfortunate reality that remains is that even if the tight end or inside receiver positions flash unexpectedly this year for Texas, schools like Arkansas, Georgia, and Michigan will still provide better opportunities to play in more traditional offenses that can unquestionably take advantage of Tennison’s rare skill set.
And that’s all the worse for a position at which the ‘Horns have absolutely struggled to recruit for years now.
At least Tennison still has some hope.