I wanted to get my thoughts down on the new commitments. I won’t blow smoke and tell you these are four-star dudes and the networks are nitwits. Well, I might tell you the last part but now isn’t the time.
When do three-stars outperform those meaningless rankings? Either when they’re entirely under-ranked like the current defensive back class, or when the brainwaves at the networks fail to account for fit. Fit is everything in evaluation, and because of fit, I’m bullish on the two new commitments.
TE Cade Brewer, Lake Travis
Is there a more ‘football’ position in football than tight end? Think about it, you get to participate in both glamour and gore. It’s a great gig if you can pull it off.
The position has been non-existent in Austin for years and there’s no point in rehashing why, but with the addition of Cade Brewer, and possible addition of Reese Leitao, it’s time we celebrated the séance of mid-90’s to late-’00’s positional usage.
It’s neither offensive linemen nor wide receiver, but sometimes, if you find a very skilled player, it’s both. It can even be a fullback at times.
There are many ways to gain advantages in football, and a versatile tight end is one of them, especially in the Tom Herman offense. We’ll leave it up to Ian “the body” Boyd to really hammer the point home, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss new TE addition Cade Brewer.
Many of you are Dallas Cowboys fans, including all of you save Fuddy and myself. I grew up a 49ers fan and therefore have fond memories of Brent Jones and a handful of other not particularly athletic fellows. You Cowboys fans have good memories of another #84 as well as current ones from the everlasting #82. What do those three guys have in common? If you answered “very average baseline athleticism” you’d be correct.
Tight end is unlike most other positions where you’re not necessarily looking for explosiveness but rather fluidity, hands, intelligence, and toughness. With the proliferation of basketball bodies at the position, the game has changed a bit, but there’s still plenty of room for skill rather than raw talent. Even the original basketball body (at least as far as I know), Tony Gonzalez, wasn’t a freak athlete, at least for the back half of his career.
Brewer definitely fits in the ‘skill’ mold. He’s a big possession receiver who will make plays in man coverage thanks to deft use of his body and quality hands. He’ll also exploit zone coverage and make the most of available space between defenders focused on more dangerous athletes. A good sign of his athleticism is the myriad ways Lake Travis sought to get him the ball. But that’s more a function of being a decently fast and very coordinated guy than being a speed merchant that translates to the next level.
Because the position can be used in so many ways, it’s also the most easily schemed to open space. How many times have you seen linebackers caught napping by a tight end who arc blocked ten times in a row? Brewer isn’t yet a punishing blocker but his body projection tells me that will be in his future if he’s mentally up to it, and that will increase his validity as an in-line weapon even more.
Overall I’m really excited about Brewer, especially when you understand the prominence of his fit in the offense. Andrew Beck will be hard for Brewer to unseat in year-one, but after that he’ll be a big part of the offense.
RB Daniel Young, Spring Westfield
Last Spring I took a gander at Young’s highlights and was impressed enough to say he was a Texas level running back, especially with Charlie Strong’s fondness for bigger backs.
Isn’t it funny how things work out?
Young doesn’t spec out as a game-changer, but rather a punishing platoon back and accoutrement to a complementary type, like say a speed back with slashing ability. A guy like Toneil Carter.
Behind a good line, Young can become very productive. He’s quick and light on his feet for his 6-foot, 21o (but still growing) pound frame. He gets downhill and doesn’t pretend to not be a bruising runner like so many his size. He gets behind his pads, creates downhill velocity, and takes the North-South yardage available.
Besides his ability, one of the early eye-catchers for me was Young’s Boise State offer. I hold Bryan Harsin’s eye for talent and schematic fit in high regard, and Young will serve much the same Inside Zone function for Texas he would have at Houston or Boise State.
His floor is a reliable short yardage back, but his ceiling is a punishing #2 back and fan favorite, imo. I’m operating in a world where the second back accumulates 800 yards so this is no slight.
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