Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.
D.J. Grant went into the record books against UCLA.
His three touchdown receptions tied a record for Texas tight end when it came to getting into the end zone in one game. That it was just the third game of the season and Grant still was recovering from major injuries gave the appearance that his game against the Bruins might be a sign of things to come.
Inside the number
Grant finished the season with 16 catches, nine in the 10 games that followed his six against UCLA, and Texas walked into the offseason in search of another tight end.
Now to be fair, Grant did tweak his knee slightly later in the season and was not quite the same after that. And he did finish the season with five catches in the last two games.
But when the coaching staff sat down to analyze the season, it became clear to them that there had to be a change at tight end. Grant, who had four starts, was recruited for a spread offense. In such an offense he would have the opportunity to flourish. Texas no longer runs such an offense.
Where it counts in 2012
To find the right tight end, one who can block first and catch passes second, Texas has turned to the defense -- Greg Daniels and Caleb Blueitt -- as well as freshman M.J. McFarland. All three are wider and more physical than Grant. All apparently are more athletic than Barrett Matthews, Texas’ other remaining option at tight end. Matthews started three games and only had two catches in 2011.
Some issues exist with Daniels, Blueitt and McFarland as well. Daniels, who was switched from the defensive line, missed spring practice due to an injury. Blueitt is a true freshman and has only been working at tight end in pass skeleton drills during the summer. McFarland did go through spring practice, but he has no experience at this level. Additionally, his 6-foot-6 frame, while an excellent target for a quarterback, makes it difficult for him to get leverage in blocking on the edge.
All of which means that, as Texas moves through the fall practices, it will be closely examining the tight end position not only as it pertains to what role it should play in the offense but what player or players are best suited for that role.