Earlier this week, Mack Brown admitted he needs to start recruiting more tight ends who specialize in blocking. Texas is getting that and a whole lot more in Durham Smythe.
On Thursday night, the Belton tight end delivered his commitment during a trip to Austin to meet with Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, Smythe confirmed to HornsNation. He becomes the 13th member of the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class.
"I did in fact commit to Texas tonight," Smythe said in a text message. "I'll be taking questions and interview [Friday], but I'm excited to be a Horn!"
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior chose Texas over Stanford and more than a dozen other offers, and Smythe gives UT the kind of playmaking receiver-blocker it has sorely lacked since Jermichael Finley went pro a year early in 2008.
"He's developed into what you want in a tight end," Belton coach Rodney Southern said. "He's a guy who can run block, who can be out in space and he's always had tremendous hands, which is something that gets better and better."
Smythe caught 24 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns in 2011, and Southern is excited to utilize him in a variety of ways this fall.
"People will key on him more this year, so we'll split him out and put him in lots of places," Southern said. "It's kind of similar to what the Saints did with Jimmy Graham -- get the defense in a matchup and decide how they're going to defend that."
Smythe embraces comparisons to Graham and another top NFL tight end, New England's Rob Gronkowski. Comparisons to "Gronk" came up frequently during his talks with coaches this spring, and Smythe sensed the position is enjoying a renewed popularity among recruiters.
"A lot of schools are in need of tight ends right now," Smythe told HornsNation last month. "I feel like, at least at this point, all over the country it's a hot commodity."
And Smythe was a high priority for Texas coaches from the start. He was one of only 12 recruits who made the trip to the Longhorns' first junior day, and though Texas coaches offered, they did not pressure him to commit quickly.
So Smythe attended Texas A&M's junior day and then took an official visit to Stanford last weekend. Stanford emerged as Texas' top competition thanks in part to a pro-style offense that prominently features tight ends -- they hauled in a combined 20 touchdowns for the Cardinal in 2011.
But in the end, after spending the past few days deliberating and comparing the two schools, Smythe decided to stay close to home. In doing so, he's committing to a program that did not sign a tight end in its 2012 class and is in dire need of versatile talents at the position.
Southern expects Smythe to bulk up and play at around 240 pounds this fall. That's precisely what Brown is looking for from future tight end signees as the Longhorns continue to transition into co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's scheme.
"We had a spread offense that we took a bunch of receivers and had them beef up and become tight ends," Brown said Tuesday. "And now we're probably going to have to start looking at a different type of tight end coming in. He may need to start at 240 [pounds] instead of starting at 205 or 210."
The Longhorns took a big step towards that future with the addition of Smythe. Texas coaches are expected to take one more tight end for the 2013 class and have shown interest in Mansfield's Trent Gow and Red Oak's Jeremiah Gaines.
Max Olson contributed to this report.