Under Mack Brown, the Texas Longhorns have had a strong history of elite level tight ends. The likes of Bo Scaife, David Thomas and Jermichael Finley each proved to be valuable and versatile playmakers in the Texas offense before moving on to the NFL.
The bar was set high by the three aforementioned players, and while the Longhorns have been successful on the field, the last few years have been tough on the tight ends. A series of injuries and setbacks have depleted the depth, which has heightened the importance on finding a playmaker at the position in the 2011 class.
Texas wasted little time zeroing in on its target, El Paso (Texas) El Dorado prospect M.J. McFarland, who made a name for himself as a 6-5, 236-pound receiver.
The Rivals250 prospect has been working hard this summer as he prepares for his 2010 season with the Aztecs, but recently he spent time in Austin at the Texas mini-camp where he was able to get a taste of his future.
"I had a good time," McFarland said. "I met some of the other commits and hung out with them. It was cool."
During workouts, though, McFarland did have a setback when he strained his hamstring and was unable to participate in most of the drills. However, he did have a chance to work with and learn from Texas tight end coach Bruce Chambers.
"There was a good connection between me and him," McFarland said. "It was mainly position stuff. He's pretty cool. He's pretty chill. He's a good coach."
It did not take long for him to notice a few differences between playing receiver and lining up at tight end, but for the most part there was one main adjustment.
"I guess my stance. I'm usually in two-point now and I'll have to get in a three-point," he said. "It felt right. I'll get used to it."
Working with his future position coach and being on the Texas campus was great, but there was one aspect of the trip that stood out from the rest.
"Just being with my future teammates and stuff. It was basically like a bonding period," McFarland said. "I really talked to Chet Moss. I really talked to him, and I talked to Jaxon Shipley. I talked to Cedric Reed and Quandre Diggs, and a little bit with David Ash."
Since returning to El Paso, McFarland is focused on getting the Aztecs back to the playoffs. He is taking things slowly now as his hamstring returns to 100 percent, but once it does he hopes to jump in the fast lane.
"I'm mainly focused on trying to get my speed up," he said. "I didn't get my second (40), that's when I strained my hamstring. It started bothering me and I did a few drills and I was like I can't go any more. I ran a 4.6 and hopefully by the time I get to Texas I'll be a high 4.5."