On Thursday, the Texas Longhorns landed a big commitment from Wyoming Cowboys transfer wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, who flipped from the Tennessee Volunteers while on a visit in Austin.
After appearing to miss on Neyor less than two weeks ago when he committed to Tennessee, Texas was able to get him on campus and close with the former Arlington Lamar standout in a significant coup for new wide receivers coach Brennan Marion. Neyor arrives on the Forty Acres as a redshirt junior with the potential of three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Besides the opportunity that Neyor earned to move up to the Power Five level with his productive 2021 season, Wyoming’s emphasis on the running game likely impacted his decision to transfer, too — the Cowboys ran the ball on 64.6 percent of their plays in 2021, resulting in fewer than 300 attempted passes.
On the relatively rare occasions that Wyoming did throw the ball, Neyor accounted for 27.2 percent of the receptions, 41.5 percent of the receiving yards, and 80 percent of the receiving touchdowns. No other player had more than 25 catches or two receiving touchdowns.
So it’s not hard to imagine why Neyor was interested in playing for Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and his much more aggressive, wide-open offense. And why the Longhorns reciprocated that interest with an offer in late December.
In some ways, however, projecting Neyor to the Longhorns offense is a little bit difficult because of how the Cowboys played offensively. As one example, Wyoming often used heavy personnel packages with two wide receivers lined up to one side of the formation, then ran into the empty space to the other side created by the alignment of the receivers. Because of that, Neyor wasn’t often asked to make key blocks, something that Sarkisian may want him to do as one of the team’s biggest receivers.
Can Neyor execute blocks on wide receiver screens?
Moreover, is he comfortable running glance route run-pass options, a route concept that would seem to work well with his combination of size and speed?
Those are legitimate questions that the Orange-White game this spring may help answer, but Neyor’s film from Wyoming does provide insight into what he does offer.
After redshirting in 2019, Neyor flashed in 2020 with eight catches for 248 yards, an average of 31 yards per catch. As a redshirt sophomore, Neyor broke out, capitalizing on the potential he previously showed as a deep threat with 44 catches for 878 yards and 12 touchdowns, ranking No. 8 nationally in yards per catch.
At 6’3 and 210 pounds, Neyor is a rangy athlete with long arms and plus speed.
Neyor is athletic enough that the Cowboys used him at times in the running game — he carried the ball 12 times and scored a touchdown in 2021 — but he wasn’t particularly productive in that area. So don’t expect him to take any carries from Xavier Worthy or Jordan Whittington on jet sweeps. Wyoming using Neyor in that way does indicate how much of an offensive weapon he was for the Cowboys.
Neyor has an impressive skill set as a receiver — combined with his route-running ability that includes an understanding of how to tempo opposing defensive backs, his speed is good enough to consistently get open deep and he has the ball skills to elevate over smaller defensive backs when his quarterback needs to throw him open.
Sarkisian loves to stress defenses by forcing them to cover post routes, an area where Worthy excelled in 2021. And while there isn’t any available information about just how fast Neyor is, he was fast enough to get open on post routes at Wyoming, so he projects as a receiver capable of punishing defenses if they devote heavy resources to keeping Worthy from beating them deep. And perhaps even if they don’t.
A fade route Neyor caught against Utah State was particularly impressive. He got a clean release at the line of scrimmage, gave his quarterback enough room to put it over his shoulder towards the sideline, and was able to track the ball to make a difficult catch over his shoulder.
New Tennessee WR Isaiah Neyor can do a little of everything. Good player.— Terry Lambert (@TLambertTN) January 9, 2022
Ridiculous concentration/tracking here and a great finish. pic.twitter.com/XgK02BjJjR
Neyor also flashed impressive ball skills — his athleticism extends to his leaping ability and he’s capable of extending outside his frame to catch balls in addition to attacking the ball at its highest point. Two of his catches against Northern Illinois, including a touchdown catch, were particularly impressive (3:00 and 6:09).
On third down, Neyor was a reliable target with 10 receptions and nine conversions in 2021, including three over 10 yards. One of those receptions went for 74 yards and another went for 54 yards. So he’ll provide some help for Jordan Whittington in that area after Texas struggled to convert third downs through the air when Whittington was injured last season.
The addition of Neyor reduces the pressure on multiple other Texas wide receivers. Neyor can serve as the second option behind Worthy if Whittington gets injured. Marcus Washington doesn’t need to be the third option if Troy Omeire struggles to return from his second knee injury in two years.
Simply put, the wide receiver corps should go from a unit lacking overall consistency to a group with the talent to become a team strength in 2022 and enough depth to better withstand injuries.