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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Burnt Orange Breakdown: M.J. McFarland

By William Wilkerson

During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 85 M.J. McFarland
Sophomore tight end

Expectations for 2013: There are few offensive players with higher expectations than McFarland. He’s got all the physical tools (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) to be a huge weapon for the Longhorns. It’s just that no one knows how he’ll be featured in this new offense. As the only true TE receiving threat, McFarland should get his chance to improve on his eight catches for 125 yards and one touchdown from 2012.

Best-case scenario for 2013: When the Longhorns have had success in the past, it often involved big contributions from a pass-catching tight end. McFarland is the best option to provide that for Texas. If he is given the opportunity, and there should be plenty of them considering Mack Brown wants to run 80-plus plays per game, his size and better-than-average speed should create plenty of matchup problems.

Worst-case scenario for 2013: Things don’t change from a season ago when tight ends only combined for 27 catches. Instead of using his size to create matchup problems down field, McFarland’s girth is used to seal off the edge as a blocker. He’s had issues with blocking in the past.

Future expectations for McFarland: The Longhorns haven’t had a tight end as athletic and promising as McFarland since Jermichael Finley in 2007. He’s the only legit pass-catching threat at the position and will be until juco commitment John Thomas joins the team in 2014. If the Longhorns give him the opportunity he could be David Ash’s new best friend.