Does Texas Tech football have one of the best TE groups in America?

According to one college football site, the Texas Tech football team has a top-10 tight end room in all of the NCAA for 2024.
Tarleton State v Texas Tech
Tarleton State v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

There's no question that the Texas Tech football program has invested heavily in the tight end room since the end of the Kliff Kingsbury era. While Kingsbury largely ignored that position group, both the Matt Wells and Joey McGuire coaching staff have thrown tons of resources at that position group.

Now, at least one online sight is suggesting that the talent McGuire and Co. have accrued at the TE position is among the best in the nation.

On Monday on social media, Jesse Simonton of posted his list of the top 10 tight end units in America. On his list, Texas Tech checks in at No. 7. That makes Tech one of only two Big 12 schools on the list joining Utah, which sits at No. 5.

There's no question that Texas Tech wants to incorporate the tight ends into the offense this year. So will this finally be the season that position group makes a significant difference?

Despite recent investment in the position, the Texas Tech TEs haven't dominated lately

It's been a long time since the Texas Tech football team deployed a dominant tight end. In fact, the last time a difference-maker arose from the TE room was way back in 2013, the first year of the Kingsbury era, when Jace Amaro went off for 1,353 yards and 7 TDs on 106 catches.

Since then, Tech hasn't had a TE go for over the 311 yards that Donta Thompson compiled in 2019. That's not necessarily what people have been expecting of the position.

Part of the problem was that Kingsbury completely ignored the position. Instead of recruiting more tight ends after Amaro left, he preferred to utilize four wide receivers like his former head coach, Mike Leach.

When Wells arrived, he immediately brought JUCO TE Travis Koontz into the fold. Though he was one of the nation's top JUCO TE recruits, he never had more than 306 yards and 4 TDs in a season.

Since then, Tech has constantly tried to add talent at that position group but none of the players have broken out. For instance, former 5-star recruit and Texas A&M transfer Baylor Cupp arrived with high expectations but never had more than 132 yards and two TDs in a season.

Is this the year Texas Tech gets significant productivity from the tight end position?

It will be fascinating to see how the tight ends are used this season. That's because Tech has the type of talent that it hasn't had at the position since Amaro left. In fact, you could argue that this tight end group is the deepest Tech has had since the Spike Dykes era. But will that lead to productivity like we've been expecting in recent years?

Arizona State transfer Jalin Conyers is the best athlete this program has had at the position since Amaro. He's also the most accomplished TE to don the Double T since Amaro.

Now, Conyers' stats won't make anyone fall out of their chair. In four seasons, he's caught 74 passes for 846 yards and 6 TDs in total. What's more, he's never topped 500 receiving yards in a season.

However, he is an elite athlete who even ran the ball for Arizona State as their wildcat quarterback. That's impressive for a 6-foot-4, 250-pound player.

Another impressive athlete is Mason Tharp. 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, he can run like a deer as well. However, he's never had even 200 yards receiving in a season as a collegiate, much of that due to injuries. Last year, he did find the endzone four times, though.

One other name to watch is Johncarlos Miller II. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound transfer from Elon was one of the breakout stars of spring camp repeatedly making athletic catches in practices and scrimmages. In 25 games at Elon, he made 21 starts and totaled 52 catches for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. But is he ready for the Big 12?

So what will it take to get the most out of the tight end position this year? It will take QB health and a competent offensive line.

First, if Behren Morton can play a full season as the starting QB, the offense will have more of an ability to distribute the ball to its pass catchers than it has in the past few seasons when the QB shuffle has plagued the team and limited the passing game's effectiveness. Of course, last season Morton had to play through a sprained shoulder that made it difficult for him to push the ball to his receivers with much pace. Here's hoping we see what a full season of health from the junior QB looks like for the first time in his career.

Second, it will also be imperative that the reworked Texas Tech offensive line proves that it can handle its pass-blocking duties without needing any extra help from the tight ends. In the past two seasons, Tharp and Cupp were asked to block nearly as often as they were asked to run routes on passing plays and that depressed their statistical outputs as much as anything.

This season, Texas Tech should have the most balanced offense it has had in our lifetimes. The presence of 1,500-yard rusher Tahj Brooks and the additions of transfer wide receiver Josh Kelly and 5-star freshman signee Micah Hudson should make this offense hard to handle.

The tight ends also will have a big role to play in 2024 and it will be interesting to see how OC Zach Kittley utilizes them, especially if he can be creative because he doesn't have to use them as sixth and seventh offensive linemen. If that happens, the Red Raiders could finally have the type of season from their tight ends that we've been expecting to see for quite some time.