On3 national college football columnist Jesse Simonton likes the Texas football skill position groups. After he said the Longhorn QB room was the third-best in the country and the UT wide receivers made up the No. 2 room at the position in college football, another Texas position group has earned a top-three ranking.
On Thursday, Simonton labeled the Texas tight end unit as the No. 3 group in the country, trailing only No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Ole Miss.
The Longhorns have the No. 2 tight in the country in former 5-star Ja’Tavion Sanders, who had 613 receiving yards last season — second-only to (Brock) Bowers among all returning Power 5 tight ends in 2023.
Texas doesn’t use too many two-tight end sets, so backup Gunnar Helm would have big shoes to fill if Sanders were to miss any time with an injury.
Sanders, an On3 Industry Ranking five-star in the 2021 class, had one of the best seasons by a tight end in school history in 2022. Sanders broke David Thomas’ record for receptions in a season by hauling in 54. That mark moved Sanders to eighth all-time in school history in receptions by a tight end.
His 613 yards last year were tied with Thomas for second-most in a season at that position, behind only William Harris’ 637-yard season in 1984. The five touchdowns Sanders hauled in were third-most in a season behind Pat Fitzgerald’s eight in 1995 and Derek Lewis’ six in 1998.
Simonton mentioned Helm, who was the second tight end last year but didn’t see a ton of action due to the use of converted offensive lineman Andrej Karic along with Sanders in Texas’ two-tight end sets. With Karic off to Tennessee, Helm should see more action than the 260 total snaps he received in 2022 according to Pro Football Focus.
Texas was ranked ahead of Florida State, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio State, Iowa, LSU, and Arizona State.
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