Texas Longhorns junior tight end Jared Wiley is among 35 players highlighted by Bruce Feldman of the Athletic on Monday as having the potential for breakout seasons in 2021.
25. Jared Wylie, Texas, TE: A former high school quarterback, Wylie is now 6-foot-7, 255 pounds and, along with inside receiver Jordan Whittington, emerged as one of the Longhorns’ big breakout players on offense while Keondre Coburn emerged on defense. Texas coaches are excited about Wylie’s combination of blocking skills, an enormous catch radius and his vertical speed. He caught nine passes in 2020 but that should jump considerably this fall.
A consensus three-star prospect in the 2019 class, Wiley enrolled early and quickly drew praise from the previous staff for his NFL upside even before he’d played a game for the Longhorns.
An injury to Cade Brewer pushed Wiley into the starting lineup for two games as a true freshman, but he didn’t have much impact in the passing game, catching one ball for 15 yards against Baylor.
As a sophomore, Wiley once again started two games and began to flash his potential as a receiver, catching nine passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. A 52-yard catch against TCU and a 47-yard catch highlighted Wiley’s athleticism in the open field for the first time in his Texas career. Against Iowa State, he caught his first career touchdown pass.
But a shoulder injury sustained in practice in mid-November helped derail the end of Wiley’s season, as he was forced to leave the Kansas State game and did not play against Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
With Brewer’s return for his super senior season and a deep depth chart at tight end that features emerging freshmen Gunnar Helm and Juan Davis, playing time won’t come easily for Wiley, especially if he continues to struggle in pass protection as he did in the Orange-White game. Wiley’s big frame and reach should allow him to improve in that area during preseason camp — he’s already the best in-line option for the Longhorns thanks to his prototypical size.
The Temple product could also benefit from the increased willingness of new head coach Steve Sarkisian to use 12 personnel more frequently and situationally instead of as a base offense for an entire drive.
But there’s no question that Feldman and the Texas coaches are correct — Wiley has all the tools to become a breakout player for the Longhorns in 2021.