As 2017 tight end signee Reese Leitao continues to deal with the drug charges brought against him in February, the Texas Longhorns continue to deal with a lack of tight end depth on campus.
According to senior Andrew Beck on Thursday, the team’s starter is back at practice and healthy again, but head coach Tom Herman believes the rest of the group is not ready to play in a game.
That includes the other tight end signee, Cade Brewer, who Herman believes will need some time in the weight room to compete as a blocker.
“It's good,” Beck said when asked about his injured foot. “It feels a lot better. Our training staff's been working with me frequently. They've been doing a really, really good job so it feels a lot better. I'm just old so everything hurts. It's day seven of spring ball and wearing pads everyday. But like I said, it feels good.”
Since Beck is the only tight end currently on the roster with any on-field experience at the position during his Texas career, the staff has been taking an extremely cautious approach with his rehabilitation.
“They've done a really good job of communicating where I am in the process and why they're doing what they're doing,” he said. “From every aspect of it, from the treatment to time spent on the field. I'm understanding, they've done a great job from training staff to coaches.”
The news is less positive with redshirt freshman Peyton Aucoin, who was known as the blocking half of the duo he formed with Alabama tight end signee Irvin Smith at Brother Martin in New Orleans.
Aucoin, a 6’5, 250-pounder, is currently dealing with a shoulder injury, according to Herman. Meanwhile, junior Garrett Gray, a converted wide receiver, may need a full year to adjust to the position, especially the demands of blocking.
As a result, the staff is currently looking at other offensive packages that don’t include a tight end.
“We’ve actually talked about getting into some 10 personnel (four receivers, one running back) and 20 personnel (three receivers, two running backs) -- getting into some formations that don’t include a tight end, just because I don’t feel good with what’s behind Andrew right now,” Herman said. “And maybe those guys Garrett and Peyton will continue to get better, but if we played tomorrow, we’d put another running back or a wideout in right now.”
Depth at wide receiver certainly helps in that equation, as Texas will also add a potential early contributor in Damion Miller because of his speed, in addition to the ability to use players like Gray or Brewer split out as wide receivers.
There’s also some help on the way in case Leitao doesn’t make it to Texas, as Syracuse graduate transfer tight end Kendall Moore visited the Longhorns over the weekend. Moore has the size and experience to compete for the starting job, but hasn’t been massively productive — he had just 14 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns with the Orange.
However, Moore did spend last season in a similar system to the one run at Texas by Sterlin Gilbert, so the tight end was largely an afterthought.
And given where things stand currently at the position, getting another college-ready warm body in the mix is exactly what Herman wants.
Now it’s time for Aucoin and Gray to get healthy and step up.