In this year's class, the player who best fits that description might be Griffin Gilbert, who — despite putting together an outstanding career at Lake Travis, including first-team All-State mention — didn't quite garner the offers that one would expect from his production level. Texas, for instance, offered Gilbert as a grayshirt, rather than a full offer.
But the Longhorns' loss is the Horned Frogs' gain. In Gilbert, TCU has a prototypical receiving tight end with outstanding size, hands and route running.
Many of the better receiving tight ends you'll see started off as wide receivers. Missouri's Michael Egnew, another Texas product, earned All-Big 12 honors two years in a row after leaving high school as a 6-foot-5 205-pound wide receiver. Texas grabbed one of those types in the 2011 class in 6-6 M.J. McFarland. And that's precisely what the Horned Frogs have in the 6-6, 215-pound Gilbert. Gilbert is that perfect tight end hybrid, just slightly too slow to earn a role as a traditional wide receiver, but with the growth potential and fluidity to make a dynamite receiver at a flex position.
The first thing that stands out about Gilbert isn't just that he's 6-6, it's that he knows he's 6-6. There are few players who use their length better on jump balls. And when you add in the way that Gilbert runs for the position, he's a nightmare at the high school level and a constant big-play threat. He created one of the Lake Travis touchdowns in the state title game simply by out-positioning and winning a jump ball over a smaller defender. And on third down, you simply have to locate him as a defense.
So why wasn't Gilbert recruited by the entire world? For one thing, there's always a question about how a player built like Gilbert will fill out. Sure, he can add weight, but how much? Will he be 235 pounds? Or will he be 255 pounds? The other question is his blocking. Gilbert's ability to seal the edge is excellent in the Lake Travis offense, and he has plenty of experience tracking and engaging defenders in space. But can he line up with his hand on the ground and win a base block against a similarly-sized defender? That's a question that won't be answered until college. And while he runs well, he's not necessarily an elite athlete for the position. He's a 4.7-to-4.8 kind of guy, which is really good, it's just not elite.
Gilbert is still a definite take — and a four-star prospect — for a number of reasons. Even if he never gets bigger than 235 pounds, he could still be a headache as a situational player. And he'll always give you a presence on key situations for his ability to win 50-50 balls. TCU appears to have found yet another steal in Gilbert, and with the Horned Frogs moving to the Big 12, he'll have plenty of chances to prove Texas wrong.