Unfortunately, the Longhorns appear to be in a similar spot here to where they've been the past few seasons, stuck without a single do-it-all type at tight end, meaning that Texas may have to rotate guys in and out depending on the situation. The closest thing to a complete threat might be Greg Daniels, potentially the best blocker of the bunch who has also flashed the potential to go up and make the occasional catch over the middle. It has been a long road for Daniels to get to this point, as he started his Texas career at defensive end, then moved in to defensive tackle, before moving across the ball to his current spot at tight end.
McFarland, who is still working to improve as a blocker, figures to fill more of the receiving needs of the position. And there's a gap there, as the departed D.J. Grant was the only Longhorn tight end with more than 10 catches a year ago. But while McFarland actually had six fewer catches than Grant did (14-8), he actually finished with 125 yards, the exact same among that Grant had. The former high school wideout is prototypical at that spot, with a massive 6-foot-6 frame and soft hands.
MOVING ON UP — Geoff Swaim
It's tough to say that anybody is moving up at this point because the two starters appear fairly set in their positions and there are only two other tight ends on roster. Geoff Swaim qualifies here, if only because his talent as a blocker and his ability to go into motion and make blocks from a variety of positions could prove valuable. Texas coach Mack Brown mentioned that Swaim learned early on this spring that he had to get his pad level lower to overpower players at this level, but it's also worth noting that Swaim wasn't even a full-time football player in junior college.
Lock him in the weight room with Bennie Wylie, and Swaim's talent as an in-line blocker could help him see the field this year.
KEEP AN EYE ON — Miles Onyegbule
Both Daniels and Swaim are more blocking-type tight ends, and with the Longhorns wanting to run more spread-type stuff, it might be worth keeping an eye on Miles Onyegbule, who actually played some as a true freshman before getting hurt and missing last season. When healthy, Onyegbule is a different player than the others on roster, in that he's that receiver/TE 'tweener, somebody who's a bit too big for one and not quite big enough for the other. That means he could provide a bit of a mismatch for linebackers trying to cover him over the middle and down the seam.
While Brown has said that the Longhorns want to continue to run "our plays", and just run them faster, the players have repeatedly made references to going with more of a spread approach. And with this tight end group, that certainly makes more sense. Texas doesn't really have the talent at the position to go two-tight, though Daniels does provide a decent mix of talents when the Longhorns do want a tight end on the line, and McFarland offers a bigger option in the flexed-out spot when Texas wants to incorporate a tight end into its spread formations.
The last time Texas had a tight end record more than 20 catches in a season was when Jermichael Finley hauled in 45 passes in 2007. And that was also probably the last time the Longhorns had a single tight end play a huge role in the offense. At least so far through this spring, that trend doesn't appear to be changing in 2013.