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What Does Tight End Jahleel Billingsley Bring To Texas' Offense?

Jahleel Billingsley's route-running and frame could be a difference-maker for Texas in 2022

If anyone can get the best of Jahleel Billingsley, it's Steve Sarkisian. He did it once before, why not do it again? 

Texas gained the commitment of the former Alabama tight end over the weekend, adding some stability to a position of need. Billingsley entered the NCAA transfer portal on Tuesday, just a day after the Crimson Tide fell in the College Football Playoff championship to Georgia. 

The Longhorns need help at tight end entering 2022. Cade Brewer is off to the NFL and Jared Wiley will remain in the Big 12, but as a member of TCU. Entering spring practice, there's isn't a player with meaningful reps returning. 

A native of Chicago, Billingsley was at his best when asked to play from the flex position. In 20 games, he recorded 559 yards and six touchdowns off 37 catches. 

Sarkisian utilized Billingsley in a more prominent role during his time as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2020. Last season. he averaged 15.9 yards per reception and recorded five plays of over 20 yards per catch. 

There's also a familiarity with his new position coach. Prior to joining Sarkisian's staff in Austin, special teams coordinator, Jeff Banks served as Alabama's tight ends coach from 2018-20. He also played a role in recruiting Billingsley out of high school, persuading him to wait his turn in Tuscaloosa over Big 10 programs such as Penn State, Illinois, or Minnesota. 

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Billingsley's 6-4 lanky frame could be an issue when it comes to in-line blocking, but from a route-running standpoint, he offers value as a security blanket for the quarterback. Texas could elect to start freshman Quinn Ewers or freshman Maalik Murphy should one impress throughout spring ball and the summer. 

If anything, it gives Texas another weapon across the middle. Only three players finished with more than 25 catches on the season, one being running back Bijan Robinson.

NFL scouts believe that Billingsley can be a difference-maker at the next level based on his skill set. The production hasn't met the same standards, actually leading to a lower draft grade entering the offseason. 

Banks and Sarkisian were able to utilize Billingsley's skills to the highest level on the way to a perfect season in 2020. Perhaps a change of location is all that's needed for the once considered top tight end to rebound in 2022. 

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