One thing Texas fans must recognize is Texas' inability to pass downfield. Last season, the Longhorns didn't have a receiver finish with over 600 receiving yards in 10 games, with two surpassing 450 in nine games.
That will be a plan implemented under new head coach Steve Sarkisian for the start of the 2021 season. After all, working with four former first-round wide receivers gives the burnt orange faithful hope he can duplicate that same success.
Austin is expecting big things from now redshirt freshman Tory Omerie as the vertical option. Jake Smith should provide some stability in the slot. Longhorns leading receiver Joshua Moore is also returning for another season.
All three should be in line for breakout seasons, right? Sure, but one name can do what all three are programmed to do, plus a tad more.
In our new series on Longhorn Country, we will be breaking down the top 10 names to watch for during the 2021 season. Some will be role-players, others will be full-fledged starters. Either way, each will be a benefactor to the success found in DKR.
Check out our other profiles already shown entering the summer months:
No. 4 - WR Jordan Whittington
If you don’t know Whittington’s upside, you wouldn’t be alone. Since joining the Longhorns, the former top prospect has shown in a glimpse what could be as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
Of course, glimpses don't guarantee stardom. Neither do injuries.
During his freshman season, Whittington suffered a torn adductor muscle that cost him most of the campaign. In 2020, he missed two games following the season opener with a lower-body injury. After a career game against Oklahoma, he’d miss three more with another abdominal injury.
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Since arriving from Cuero, Whittington has played in just six games. He’s scored one touchdown and only has a handful of catches under his belt. The sample size might be small, but Whittington has caught the eyes of the right people.
“I really like Jordan,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said on April 10. “From the day I got here, he’s done everything I’ve asked. He’s part of our leadership committee. He’s a guy who’s really learned our system well, is probably the furthest along of understanding, can play multiple positions at the wide receiver position right now.”
The versatility at wide receiver should make Whittington the leading man in the passing game for 2020. His overall 6-foot-1 frame has best him suited on the outside. His blazing speed though might allow him to be effective in the slot.
Sarkisian told reporters during spring camp that the position would not be set “based on certain skills.” Instead, the best players who improve at camp will earn the starting nod. It’s hard to imagine Whittington not fitting the bill of one of the three spots.
If the past can indicate the future, Whittington’s is bright. Here’s a kid that in three seasons with Cuero recorded 5,600 all-purpose yards. The speed of a running back, size of a defensive back, and hands of a receiver?
There’s a reason recruiters labeled him the No. 2 athlete instead of shoving him into a hole.
As for those glimpses? There’s enough film to see why some believe he could be the breakout star in the Big 12. Whittington snagged 10 catches against the Sooners’ secondary last season for a total of 65 yards. On top of that, he also has three carries for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Can someone say trick plays, please?
More and more, gadget players are becoming x-factors on offense. In Sarkisian’s two seasons with Alabama, he saw his fair shares of do-it-all players. Florida had Kardius Toney. Texas A&M has Ainias Smith.
Texas has Whittington now in the fold.
If healthy, there are few limitations on what he can be for the Longhorns’ offense. Adding a mind like Sarkisian to set him up might make him a consensus All-Big 12 finalists come December. That’s one of the many goals Whittington has for himself next fall.
The other two goals? Zero drops and a Big 12 title. If used right, all three of Whittington’s boxes could be checked.
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What do you think about Whittington's skills as Texas' new No. 1 target? Comment and join in on the discussion below!
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