Texas Longhorns senior tight end Cade Brewer will return for a fifth season on the Forty Acres, he announced on Saturday.
With the NCAA ruling that the pandemic-influenced 2020 season will not cost athletes a season of eligibility, Brewer is the second Texas player to take advantage of the opportunity to return for another year, joining graduate transfer wide receiver Brenden Schooler.
A 6’4, 252-pounder from Lake Travis, Brewer has started 20 games in a Texas career impacted by injuries — after taking over as a starter during his freshman season in 2017 due to other injuries, Brewer suffered a torn ACL during a November practice.
Brewer’s recovery and Andrew Beck’s return from injury limited Brewer’s contributions in 2018. He played in all 14 games, but didn’t earn a start and only had two catches while mostly playing on special teams.
After Beck departed to the NFL, Brewer started nine games and recorded 11 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown in 2019, but once again missed time after suffering an ankle injury against TCU.
Brewer held onto his starting job in 2020 and made 13 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.
With the announcement of his return in 2021, Brewer will provide a steady veteran presence on the field and in the locker room, but he’s not as strong of a blocker as Beck and some combination of his injuries and his weight gain from his time at Lake Travis have limited his contributions as a pass catcher.
Despite a modest ranking as the No. 996 player nationally in the 2017 class, Brewer’s production in the passing game, especially during the playoffs as a senior when he earned an offer from Tom Herman after an in-person viewing, set expectations that Brewer has not been able to match at Texas.
So there is legitimate concern that Brewer could continue to take playing time away from Jared Wiley, the sophomore with more prototypical size and higher upside who flashed at times during the regular season as he adjusted to a position he rarely played in high school.
But the staff was willing to honor Brewer’s scholarship for another season, leaving Wiley and the other tight ends on the depth chart, including redshirt sophomore Malcolm Epps and redshirt freshman Braydon Liebrock, as well as 2021 signees Juan Davis and Gunnar Helm, to compete for playing time against the incumbent veteran.