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After missing on Will Gragg at TE, where will Texas turn in 2015?

The Horns can't afford to miss at a position of need.

Arkansas tight end commit Will Gragg
Arkansas tight end commit Will Gragg
Wescott Eberts (SB Nation)

When Dumas (Ark.) tight end Will Gragg committed to the home-state Arkansas Razorbacks on Tuesday morning in a completely unsurprising decision, the Texas Longhorns were left with only one uncommitted tight end offer on the board for the 2015 class.

And that prospect, Miami (Fla.) Booker T Washington's Devonaire Clarington, is almost certainly going to commit to the Miami Hurricanes in the near future without ever visiting Austin.

All told, the Horns have extended six offers at the position to many of the top prospects in the country.

In fact, landing visits from tight end targets has been a difficult task -- Gragg was supposed to take an official visit to Texas before making his decision in November, but pushed back his trip and moved up his decision. He may still make it to Austin, but it's hard to see that having any impact on where he signs in February.

Houston Clear Lake's Jordan Davis visited Texas multiple times in the spring, ultimately leaving at halftime of the spring game disappointed in the offense and upset with Longhorn fans who started to attack him on social media when Texas A&M early enrollee quarterback Kyle Allen made a negative comment to Davis about the struggling Texas offensive attack.

Junior college tight end Andrew Davis committed to lowly Illinois without ever visiting Texas.

All that, however, is in the past -- what matters now is what type of back-up plan the coaching staff has to ensure that there's a tight end prospect in the 2015 class with Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels graduating after this season, leaving only three players on the roster in MJ McFarland with one year of eligibility, Blake Whiteley with three, and Andrew Beck with four.

There are several directions in which the staff could go, possibly in each of the following directions.

Option 1: Offer lower-rated in-state tight ends

Tight ends are hard to find because there aren't many 6'5, 250-pounders out there who can run routes, catch passes, and block. And don't blame it on spread offenses either, because those players are valuable in spread offenses, too.

So, in the 2015 class in the state of Texas, there aren't many options behind Davis.

The two prospects currently on the radar are Comanche's Hunter Thedford and North Forney's Hunter Herndon, a Rice commit who plays quarterback in high school.

Hunter Thedford is a 6'7, 230-pounder who has always played on defense and is making the adjustment to offense this fall. An official visit to UTEP is in the works as the Miners are his only offer at this point, though a number of bigger programs are keeping track of his progress this fall and could extend offers down the road.

The Horns are one of those programs and don't have the luxury of missing at the position.

Thedford is a long, lanky player who can show some burst coming off the ball as a blocker and a pass-catcher, but he'll need some time to add weight in college before he can handle his duties in the run game.

Herndon isn't as tall at 6'4, but has a more college-ready frame at 235 pounds. With the ball in his hands in high school, he's not particularly elusive or fast, but he does have solid feet and speed for his size. His best attribute is his ability to put his shoulder down and pick up extra yardage after contact, while his desire to hurdle defenders is probably not something that will translate to college.

In August, Herndon picked up an offer from Oklahoma to go along with his offers from Rice, New Mexico, and North Texas, so Texas would have some competition if they decided to enter his recruitment. Several months ago, Herndon said that he was considering an official visit to Austin this fall.

Option 2: Find a junior college tight end

Unfortunately, this is going to be a much more difficult option unless the staff can unearth an overlooked talent like the previous staff did with Swaim several years ago.

In the 247Sports junior college rankings, there are only six tight ends and five of them are already committed. The top-ranked prospect, Copiah-Lincoln's Josh McNeil, is still uncommitted and the two lowest-rated prospects are pledged to South Alabama.

Since the South Alabama pledges are ranked as a low three-star prospect and a high two-star prospect, respectively, an attempt to flip them is probably unlikely, leaving McNeil as the lone prospective target at this time.

An Alabama commit out of high school who later named LSU his leader, McNeil's recruitment is a bit of a mystery right now, as neither his 247Sports nor his Rivals profile have many recent updates.

He is, however, an alum of The Opening and the Under Armour All-American game, so he unquestionably has talent.

Option 3: Move defensive end commit Louis Brown to tight end

The do-everything athlete at tiny Burton is expected to play on the defensive side of the ball when he arrives in Austin, but based on his time at wide receiver and tight end in high school, he could be an impact player at tight end once he adds weight to his frame, which currently holds 215 listed pounds.

In other words, he would need some time in the weight room before contributing, just as he will at defensive end, though he could be used as a situational pass-rusher defensively while that growth happens.

The downside to this particular option? Brown is one of two defensive end commits in the class after the Horns missed at the position in 2013 and landed only one in 2014. With no other targets likely to end up at Texas on the board, the odds of Brown ending up at tight end aren't especially high.


So, besides trying to get in on McNeil relatively late or uncovering an overlooked junior college tight end, the first option is the most likely.

Which of the two prospects on the radar is more likely to receive an offer? With only one freshman on the roster at this time, why not offer both and take both if they want to commit?

It's not like Texas has a scholarship crunch at the moment after dismissing nine players.

What the program doesn't have at the moment is an obvious plan for addressing the major need at tight end. Hopefully that changes soon.