A month and a half ago, the Texas Longhorns were in a strong position with New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr tight end Anthony Jones after apparently extending an offer and looking like they could receive a commitment on a later visit.
Now, the window of opportunity for Texas may be closing after Jones named the LSU Tigers the leader on Tuesday following a weekend visit to Baton Rouge, while the Longhorns have still failed to extend an offer.
One could be coming for Jones during the spring evaluation period, when tight end coach Bruce Chambers and/or another member of the Texas staff, likely running back coach Larry Porter of defensive tackle coach Bo Davis go by Edna Karr to evaluate Jones in person, though it is not yet clear whether that will happen.
Since late February, when Jones visited Austin, he has seen his recruitment pick up substantially, grabbing offers from Auburn and Florida State in addition to LSU.
247Sports LSU recruiting analyst Shea Dixon has now predicted that Jones will end up as a Tiger, though the good news for Texas is that Jones told Orangebloods that his recruitment is "between LSU and Texas right now ($)," even with the lack of an offer from the 'Horns.
With only one other offer out to a tight end in Manvel's Koda Martin, the plan at the position for Texas is still not clear, especially given that Martin could play defensive end or grow into an offensive tackle in college. And the fact that while Texas made Martin's top six recently, the Longhorns were so late to get into his recruitment that landing a commitment from the coach's son would seem to be a longshot at this time.
The Houston area has several prospects who might be worthy of an evaluation, especially Kindaid School prospect Mavin Saunders, a native of the Bahamas, who, like Jones, recently came to the game of football. Also like Jones, Saunders right now projects as a flex tight end who could eventually grow into an attached role as he develops as a blocker.
For comparisons to current and former Texas players, both of those tight ends compare favorable to MJ McFarland and Jermichael Finley, though the current and former Longhorn both had much more extensive football experience when they were recruited.
Saunders now has offers from Florida State, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Texas Tech. He should also receive an evaluation during the spring period from Texas.
The other Houston prospect worthy of a look is a much more accomplished blocker -- Kingwood Park's Jordan Feuerbacher, a 6-5, 240-pounder who would compare better to Geoff Swaim than the former high school wide receivers Texas has recruited at the position in recent years. A three-star prospect with offers from Baylor, Illinois, and Oregon State, he's a strong blocker with plenty of in-line experience who also has some athleticism in the passing game.
The Longhorns haven't been looking nationally at a player like Arizona product Mark Andrews, a 6-6, 230-pound high school receiver who will soon have the size to play tight end, or anyone else for that matter, so the plan apparently is to evaluate Jones and other in-state prospects this spring, though it's possible Andrews could have a Texas coach or two stop by his school.
Any other in-state products are either not currently on the radar or are H-back types like San Antonio Churchill's Dimitri Flowers, who is listed at 6-2 and may not even be under serious consideration.
Since there is a need for two players in the class, unless the Longhorns want to shoot for the stars and offer Andrews or another national prospect, trying to land a commitment from one of Jones or Saunders and then taking a proven blocking tight end like Feuerbacher would make for a tight end class that isn't mind-blowing on paper, but would fill the needs of the 2014 class there.
So, Texas coaches, what are y'all going to do here?