Season Preview: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

2010 in Review: In 2010, the biggest problem with the wide receiving corps was that not one receiver could be relied upon to step up week in and week out. The good news was that Texas had enough talent at receiver that a different player could step up each week, but every successful QB at Texas in the past 10 years has had a go-to target. Chris Simms had Roy Williams. Vince Young had Limas Sweed. Colt McCoy had Jordan Shipley. Garrett Gilbert has ??? That’s the question. When VY was first getting his feet wet as a starter for the Horns, he relied heavily on the safety net of his tight ends. Gilbert hasn’t had that luxury in his short career because the best tight ends can’t stay healthy. The quartet that made it on the field last year (Greg Smith, Barrett Matthews, Ahmard Howard and Dominique Jones) didn’t have nearly as many playmakers as those that didn’t (Blaine Irby, D.J. Grant, Ian Harris and Trey Graham) although Matthews does have good upside.

Key Returner: Irby is by far the most important returning player for the Horns. You may not remember him seeing as how he hasn’t played since severely injuring his knee against Rice two years ago (Watch the video at your own risk). That year he was poised to become the next big thing at tight end following in the footsteps of guys like Bo Scaife, David Thomas and Jermichael Finley. In new Co-Offensive Coordinator Bryan Harsin’s offense, the tight ends will play a major role. As long as he and fellow playmaker Grant, a converted high school wide receiver, stay healthy Gilbert should feel more comfortable dinking and dunking to his tight ends.

Player to Watch: Receiver Mike Davis is the only returning wideout that had more than 20 catches last season. Since June, four receivers have left the program including two guys who combined for 55 catches, 658 yards and three of the 10 receiving touchdowns made last year. Malcolm Williams left the team for personal reasons and Marquise Goodwin will redshirt this year while he focuses on long jump after winning the national title. It’s not like Davis is the player to watch by default though. He had five starts and two 100-yard games last year and showed flashes of greatness. There have been rumblings that Davis has been benched in practice, but he is still the most experienced playmaker at the wideout position for Texas … and he’s only a sophomore. Davis was also named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for 2011. Keep an eye on true freshmen Jaxon Shipley and Miles Onyegbule as well. They have been getting rave reviews in camp.

For the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends to be successful, they need to … step up to the big leagues. It’s time for someone in this group to become a star and be a go-to playmaker for whoever starts at quarterback. There is no shortage of talent, but if Texas really wants to rebound from last season they need that talent to manifest into something greater. There will be a lot of guys seeing the field for the first time with so many players either coming back from injury or replacing departing starters. Mack Brown says it’s an open competition. We’ll see who steps up.

One Comment

  1. jeffspeck says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head.. The young guns HAVE to step up this season, no if and’s or buts about it… Last year the inconsistency at the receiver position absolutely killed the Horns and you can bet your ass that if that type of play repeats itself this season we will be in a heap of trouble… I’m excited to see what these young guys have and who is going to step it up this season…

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