Spring Preview: Texas Receivers

With Texas spring football kicking off this week, here's a look at the position battles at wide receiver and tight end.

WIDE RECEIVER — DeSean Hales (senior), Marquise Goodwin (senior), Mike Davis (junior), John Harris (sophomore), Bryant Jackson (sophomore), Miles Onyegbule (sophomore), Jaxon Shipley (sophomore)

Don't be surprised to see some walk-ons getting work at times in practices, or to hear that Hales is having a nice spring. Texas, as usual, will be without Goodwin as he participates in track. And Jackson could be destined for safety, though Texas coach Mack Brown said he would likely stay at receiver in the spring because of the team's low numbers at the position.

What seems apparent is that this group has some nice pieces. Davis, Shipley and Goodwin all had 100-yard receiving games last year, and all were big-play threats with a catch of 56 yards or more last season. Shipley could develop into the Big 12's best wide receiver as early as this season. Davis has that kind of talent as well, though his consistency is at issue. And while Goodwin won't participate in the spring, you know what you're getting there: a speed threat who can beat any defense downfield. He had 421 yards and two touchdowns last year, but came on incredibly strong late, snagging 16 balls for 238 yards and two TDs in the last three games.

And while those three provide a nice core, Harris and Onyegbule provide even more reason for excitement. The duo have a lot in common: young, big-bodied receivers who can make plays over the middle. And both wowed the coaches with their work ethic. Harris was slated to start before suffering a season-ending setback, and Onyegbule was a trusted part of the rotation late. Hales's main issue is simply that there have been players like Shipley in front of him. And don't discount the presence of Cayleb Jones, either. Jones is still at Austin High, but will swing by the practices and the meeting rooms to get a head start. And don't forget that Shipley, who did the same thing last year, credited that arrangement with his ability to hit the ground running.

TIGHT END — D.J. Grant (senior), Barrett Matthews (senior), Trey Graham (junior), Darius Terrell (sophomore), M.J. McFarland (redshirt freshman)

Count the oldest and the youngest as the players to get excited about. Grant certainly had some high points as a junior, finishing as the team's fourth receiver behind Davis, Shipley and Goodwin. And he did most of that damage in one game against UCLA. While he faded a bit late, Blaine Irby came on. And now that Irby's gone, Grant will have a chance to monopolize those touches and push toward the 350-to-400-yard receiving mark.

The player standing most in his way could be the only skill player to redshirt a year ago: M.J. McFarland. McFarland has always been an intriguing prospect in that he played wide receiver at 6-6 230 in high school. Now, he's filled out to 260 pounds, possibly lending the Longhorns a player who — if his blocking skills can match up to his increased bulk — can block in-line as well as stretch the defense. He's a unique player to watch this spring, to be sure.

The rest of the players combined for three catches for 12 yards. Matthews seemingly has the speed to factor in, but it hasn't happened yet for him. Graham has been injured. And Terrell is an interesting player in that he also played wide receiver in high school. Terrell can catch the ball, and if McFarland doesn't pan out just yet, could be called on to try and fill Irby's void as a receiver in passing situations.

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