Junior tight end Caleb Bluiett has always been a jack-of-all-trades.
In high school, he earned all-district honors while playing defensive end, linebacker, tight end, defensive tackle and long snapper. That’s why his teammates weren’t surprised to see him easily transition from defense to offense just days before the season.
“Caleb’s always been athletic,” senior cornerback Duke Thomas said. “He’s always been one of those guys to go both ways. Having him out there making plays is really good to see.”
Bluiett spent his sophomore campaign chasing quarterbacks on defense and racking up 3.5 sacks. This year, though, he’s quickly learned to protect quarterbacks after his coaches asked him to switch to tight end when redshirt sophomore tight end Blake Whiteley tore his ACL at the end of training camp.
“I thought I was going to miss hitting people,” Bluiett said. “The good thing about being a tight end, you pretty much get to hit somebody every play. You don’t really have a problem. You just switch your mindset from trying to get someone to trying to save someone pretty much.”
Through just eight games, Bluiett is already making an impact on offense. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and 258 pounds, he has the size to block defensive linemen and create a mismatch in the passing game. He particularly excels at run-blocking, especially in junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ short-yardage package.
“He’s doing a great job adjusting,” redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard said. “He’s getting the concepts and getting how to play offensively. When you have a guy like that — with the height and width where you can just throw him the ball — he’s fun to throw to.”
So far, Bluiett has just four catches for 67 yards. However, he made a crucial play while catching a fourth-quarter touchdown against then-No. 10 Oklahoma. The score ended up being the difference in the Longhorns’ 24-17 win.
Bluiett adds another dimension to Texas’ offense with his size and skill. However, his leadership and work ethic stand out as much as his play. Thomas said the coaching staff consistently praises Bluiett when the team watches film. Additionally, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Bluiett’s vocal leadership is a big asset for younger players to learn.
“When he left the [defensive line] room, we kind of missed some of that attitude,” Bedford said. “I’m so happy to see him have success on the offensive side of the football. He’s an excellent blocker. To see him catch a couple of balls and get him going — I think it’s a great thing for this football team.”
Bluiett’s play stands out despite little time at tight end. However, the transition hasn’t been completely perfect. He said he feels more comfortable at the position with eight games behind him. Even so, he’s still trying to find his role among his new offensive teammates.
“The tight end room is a little different,” Bluiett said. “[With] different personalities and [a] different coach, we all are getting used to each other. We just need to continue to connect like we have been.”
At least four games remain for Bluiett to keep adjusting to his new role. There’s no guarantee that he’ll fill up the stat sheet. But he’s a lock to supply his team with energy and leadership every time he takes the field.
“I just want to be me, I just want to do what I’m supposed to do,” Bluiett said. “With that fire, I just hope to be a little of the ‘juice’ guy … I’m trying to bring us forward.”