There was a lot riding on Texas’ first play from scrimmage against Iowa State.
Everyone knew the Longhorns would line up in the wishbone in honor of Darrell K. Royal for that one play, but no one knew what was going to come of it.
Snap. Pitch to Jaxon Shipley, who throws it back to David Ash in the endzone, who then throws it to ... a tight end, the same position that Mack Brown listed as one of his two chief concerns heading into the season? Gulp.
Greg Daniels, though, hauled in the pass down Texas’ sideline for a 47-yard gain, sending DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium into a frenzy and cementing that play as one of the most memorable in Longhorns history.
Truthfully, the play was going to live in lore forever regardless of the completion or not. But it sure does make the story sweeter for Texas that the play was completed.
And the fact that a tight end made the catch, as the only receiving option on the play, shows you how much more Texas’ coaches are starting to believe in the position.
There’s still a long way to go of course. Through 10 games the tight ends only have 22 catches. But there’s no denying how big the position is and has been in Bryan Harsin-lead offenses.
In his time as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 2006-10, Boise State’s top tight end for each season cumulatively totaled 1,385 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In that same span, Texas’ top tight end for each season totaled 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns, with 947 yards and five touchdowns belonging to Finley, who was far more talented than any of the players Harsin had at has disposal in Idaho.
There’s not a Finley-type per say on this roster, someone who can stretch the field like he could, or even a David Thomas, who had the hands and the blocking tenacity that would fit perfectly in this offense. But there could be one on the way in 2013 commitment Durham Smythe.
If you were to list Smythe’s attributes in order of pass-catching abilities to blocking abilities, he’d tell you his receiving skills are ahead of where his blocking skills are. But that’s not to say he can’t seal the edge when needed.
Our ESPN scouts agree, saying, “He displays some tenacity as a blocker and will work to sustain and finish. Smythe needs to keep filling out and polishing his technique as a blocker, but displays the tools to grow into a well-rounded and productive inline tight end.”
For the first time in his career, Smythe had the luxury of working with a tight ends coach at Belton, and blocking was something he honed in on throughout the season.
The Longhorns will bring in a strictly blocking tight end in Geoff Swaim as well in 2013, which points to the importance Texas’ coaches place on its tight ends being able to block.
Having someone like Swaim to learn from, as well as the other TEs on the roster, will only benefit Smythe in the end. He’s the future of the position at Texas and the more well-rounded he becomes, the better off UT will be.