On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns held the final scrimmage of spring practice with the annual Orange-White game looming next Saturday and one of the standouts was sophomore tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, who caught a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Hudson Card.
On the play, Card is able to hang in the pocket and let the route by Sanders develop, delivering the pass just before coming under pressure and putting it in the back of the end zone for the big tight end, who brings it in against solid coverage by junior nickel back Jahdae Barron.
A two-way standout at Denton Ryan, Sanders arrived on the Forty Acres last summer as the top-ranked recruit in the 2021 class for the Longhorns — a consensus five-star prospect, Sanders finished the cycle ranked as the No. 1 athlete and the No. 13 player overall, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. But after playing wide receiver at Ryan, Sanders had to adjust to blocking his new position and played primarily on special teams with the field-goal unit in his first season.
So Sanders entered his first spring practice facing significant pressure emerge as a starting-caliber player following the graduation of Cade Brewer and the departure of Jared Wiley to the NCAA transfer portal. The touchdown catch from Card provides a glimpse of the development from Sanders, who is one of the most talented and physically impressive players on the Texas roster.
The Orange-White game will be an even more valuable tool for assessing where Sanders is at on his growth curve, but all the indications are that he’s made the necessary strides to compete with fellow sophomore Gunnar Helm as the team’s co-starters as in-line tight ends.