The tight end position was once a position of strength at Texas under Mack Brown, but under Brown we also witnessed the beginning a very long drought of having solid production from the position. The days of players like David Thomas, Bo Scaife, Jermichael Finley, and even Blaine Irby are well in the rearview mirror and Texas fans have been yearning for when players of that caliber were on the roster.
While the tight end position room is still a good ways off from being back to what it used to be, Tom Herman and his staff are already hard at work trying to remedy the issue. Since arriving in Austin, Herman has already signed three tight ends in Cade Brewer, Reese Leitao, and Malcolm Epps, with Brewer already logging snaps and showing promise as a true freshman in 2017.
After only taking Epps last cycle, the staff is likely taking two at the position this time around and they’ve been looking nationally to continue adding talent and depth to the position. Brayden Liebrock was offered earlier this spring and made a trip to Austin in March during his unofficial visit tour that included some of the top programs in the country. Needless to say, the competition was going to be stout, but Liebrock made his way back to Austin this past weekend for an official visit and things couldn’t have gone better.
Landing elite out of state talent is never easy to do, but that’s just what Herman and his staff did with Liebrock, as they were able to secure a commitment from one of the nation’s top talents at the position over the likes of Alabama, Arizona State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.
Name: Brayden Liebrock
High School: Chandler
City & State: Chandler, AZ
Height: 6’5 (Verified)
Weight: 214 (Verified)
40-yard: 4.6 (Unverified)
2016: Stats Unavailable
2017: 39 catches, 600 yards (15.4 YPC), 6 TDs
- Being a converted wide receiver shows up in his movements and route running. Shows good savvy and the ability to get separation.
- Big frame to work with at 6’5 and should be able to add good mass over time once he arrives on campus.
- Has developed a good habit of being a hands catcher rather than be a body catcher.
- Tracks the ball well in the air and shows the ability to adjust accordingly. Has pretty good body control, which again can be attributed to his time at receiver.
- Attacks the ball at the high point, which will potentially make him a nightmare to cover due to his size and length.
- Moves well in the open field with the ball in his hands, and shows the ability to get YAC.
- Shows a variety of routes already in his arsenal and consistently gets separation. He will be a weapon as a receiver early in his career.
- Shows the willingness to be a blocker, which is always a key factor when making the switch from receiver to tight end.
- Might have to put a couple bricks in his pockets once he arrives on campus since he is a little light in the britches at 214. Will likely need a redshirt year to bulk up.
- Converted wide receivers are always a gamble when it comes to teaching them to be blockers. Typically a long development curve in that aspect.
- While he spent some time as an in-line tight end this past year, he had spent most of time split out wide prior to that. Will take some time getting him accustomed to that role.
- Long speed is a bit of question mark after seeing him get caught from behind a couple times on tape.
- Can he retain his current body movements once he adds 20-30 pounds? Will be something to watch once he hits a college weight room.
Bradyen Liebrock is a four star tight end prospect out of Chandler HS in Arizona, who is making the transition from wide receiver to tight end. Liebrock possesses good height (6’5) and length for the position with long arms, but is a little light in the weight department currently (214) and will have to add some good weight over time. Liebrock is one of the best tight end recruits I’ve watched tape on this cycle, as he shows good athletic traits on tape and the potential to be a great asset as a receiver already at this stage in development. Thought he seemed to benefit from often getting clean releases from the LOS, he consistently showed the ability to run good routes and consistently get separation from defenders once in them. Not only is Liebrock a savvy route runner, he already shows he ability to run a variety of routes in the route tree. It is clear that Liebrock has benefited from his time at wide receiver in this aspect of his game and it has carried over as he has moved closer to the ball. Liebrock has already developed a good habit of being a hands catcher and doesn’t frequently the let the ball get into his body. He also shows good balls skills when it comes to timing his leaps to high point the ball and also shows he can track the ball in the air and adjust accordingly with good body control. Liebrock doesn’t have the best straight line speed, but his body movements in the open field so that he is far from a diesel tanker in that regard. I am curious to if he will be able to retain his athleticism as he adds mass to his frame, but I’m not overly concerned with that. My biggest concern for Liebrock is the same with any converted wide receiver and that is his blocking ability. At this point in his development, Liebrock shows the willingness to compete as a blocker at this stage in his development, but he has a long way to go from a technical aspect as far as hand placement, play strength, proper angles, and finishing. None of this changes my opinion of Liebrock as a player overall, but it is something he will have to really focus on given how Texas uses their tight ends in their current offensive scheme.
This is a home run pick for the Texas staff and they once again inject a talented player into the pipeline where the program has lacked talented depth for years. When Texas offered Liebrock and I was able to take in his tape for the first time, I was very impressed and called him one of the best tight end prospects I had watched this cycle and I am still saying that now.
Liebrock’s offer list is an indictment of his ability as a player and that list is littered with elite programs that have put out NFL talent at the tight end position. That just goes to show you that not only is Liebrock underrated as a prospect, but Texas had to fight off some elite programs for the stud tight end from Arizona. It was never going to be easy landing him, but the staff once again did a great job in this recruitment and blew him away on his official this past weekend.
When Liebrock arrives on campus, he will immediately become one of the best if not the best receiving threats in that meeting room and he projects to be a matchup nightmare as he continues to grow and fill out his 6’5 frame. If you can pair Liebrock with a Temple tight end Jared Wiley, then you have a very athletic tight end duo that will be able to give defenses problems down the line.
Overall, I am very bullish on this pickup for Texas and think it could help down line with another prospect that hails from Arizona in Jake Smith.
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