Monday, June 23, 2014
Burnt Orange Breakdown: Caleb Bluiett
By Max Olson
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
Recruitment rewind: The four-star defensive end from Beaumont (Texas) West Brook committed to Texas on the spot when he got his offer at a junior day in 2011. Bluiett played six positions at West Brook and was also a standout baseball player. He notched 134 tackles, 15 TFLs, eight sacks and two blocked kicks in his final two years of high school ball and came to Texas with the potential to play defensive end or tight end, depending on need.
Career so far: Bluiett began his Texas career as a tight end and redshirted in 2012. During the course of the 2013 season, he moved from defensive end to tight end and then back to end. He appeared in nine games, mostly on special teams but was called upon late in the season. Blueitt nabbed his first career sack against Texas Tech and played well in a reserve role, enough to earn him a start against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl when the Longhorns opened in a three-end formation.
Best-case scenario for 2014: With Jackson Jeffcoat and backup Reggie Wilson now gone, Bluiett has an opportunity to see some serious playing time this fall. He'll likely be the first defensive end off the bench and perhaps even the heir apparent to senior Cedric Reed. Best case, he's one of Texas' most important and effective backup defenders with a knack for getting TFLs when he's on the field.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Let's hope his talents are not wasted on another season of shuttling between positions. Adding juco transfer Blake Whiteley should've given Texas enough depth at the tight end position, so no need to pursue that option again. If Shiro Davis really blows up in his first year as a starter, you'll see him and Reed taking the lion's share of playing time up front. Bluiett needs more than mop-up duty, and Texas needs to be able to rotate in its backups on the defensive line.
Future expectations: Who's going to continue Texas' rather incredible run of impact defensive ends? Reed raised his game when he took over for Alex Okafor. Somebody else will need to this fall to replace Jeffcoat. Based on what he showed this spring, you'd be wise to place your bets on Blueitt being a big name to know for the near future.