Texas TE Ja’Tavion Sanders makes preseason watch list for John Mackey Award

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Texas tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders is expected to burst onto the college football scene this season.

The former-five star prospect was rated the No. 1 athlete in the country for the 2021 recruiting class. He excelled on both sides of the ball for Denton Ryan High School and many were unsure where Steve Sarkisian would choose play him.

Since arriving to Austin, Sanders has found his home at tight end for the Longhorns. After not receiving much playing time as a freshman, Sanders now has a clear understanding of Sarkisian’s offense and is expected to compete for a starting role alongside Jahleel Billingsley in 2022.

The expectations surrounding Sanders this season are so high that he was included on the John Mackey Award preseason watch list on Friday. The award is given annually to the best tight end in the country.

Billingsley, whom many view as one of the top 2023 NFL draft picks at the position, was surprisingly not included on the list. Other Big 12 members to appear on the list are West Virginia’s Mike O’Laughlin, Oklahoma’s Brayden Willis, Texas Tech’s Baylor Cupp and Baylor’s Ben Sims.

Many view Georgia’s Brock Bowers as the favorite to win the award.

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