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Texas missed Andrew Beck in 2019.
After Beck rarely left the field and accumulated 281 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 catches in 2018, Texas tight ends in 2019 totaled 13 receptions for 181 yards and a single score. When Cade Brewer went down with an ankle injury in late October, tight end became such a weakness for the Longhorn offense that Tom Herman divorced himself from 11 personnel and started to throw an extra wide receiver on the field. It wasn’t due to surplus receiver talent so much as a dearth of tight end talent.
The number of players in the room are normal heading into 2020, but there was some shuffling of the parties involved. Reese Leitao moved from tight end to defensive end. Malcolm Epps moved from wide receiver to tight end. Brewer, Jared Wiley, and Brayden Liebrock remain with new tight ends coach Jay Boulware. There’s also a new type of skillset in the room with Jaden Hullaby.
Although new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is set to call plays this fall, the tight ends’ role in the offense shouldn’t see too much of a change. While at Oklahoma State, Yurcich’s boss Mike Gundy called his tight ends/H-backs “Cowboy Backs.” Their role was a similar hybrid TE/H-back role that Texas labels as “Y,” just with a fancy name for branding.
The room is a long way away from the disaster situation 2017 was for tight ends. Everyone save Hullaby has some in-game experience, with Liebrock maintaining his redshirt after appearing in just three games. But the room on the whole remains unproven, which could be trouble for a head coach who views having one on the field as a necessity.
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