Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Gunnar Helm proves to be promising asset for Texas football

Lorianne Willett
Texas tight end Gunnar Helm runs to make a touchdown during the Longhorns’ game against the Wyoming Cowboys on September 26, 2023.

The word underrated is among the most popular — and somewhat overused — in sports media, but it’s hard to find a term to describe the impact of junior tight end Gunnar Helm. 

You won’t find any player that is talked about so much by their coach and their teammates, yet so little in the media, as Helm. 

“I’ve been trying to praise him as much as I could,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said about Helm last week.

Since joining the team as a three-star recruit from Colorado in 2021, Helm has had a quiet career. 2022 was his first season ever seeing offensive action, where he was used almost exclusively as a blocker and caught just five passes. After four games this year, he’s already caught three passes and is seeing the field a lot more.

“(He’s) awesome, I think he’s really grown this offseason as well,” sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers said. “He’s really big for this offense, blocking and catching.”

Though Helm’s stat sheet doesn’t jump out much, his impact on the field is obvious as a spectator. Helm stands at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 250 lbs, and he sure plays like it. It’s a joy to watch him step onto the field and maul a linebackers as sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks runs for a first down. Helm’s specialty comes mostly in the blocking game, and with running backs like Bijan Robinson no longer in Austin, his importance has never been more clear.

“I think he’s really grown into a true tight end this offseason,” Ewers said about Helm. 

Helm is often lined up in the “12” personnel, meaning two tight ends on the field with two wide receivers and one running back. Playing alongside junior and starting tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, the two have created a feared duo on the line of scrimmage. 

“Gunnar provides a lot of versatility to our offense because we can move both of those two guys around,” Sarkisian said. “They can be interchangeable, and Gunnar’s probably a better pass receiver than most would know. “

Helm hasn’t gotten as much of a chance to show off his hands, but don’t be surprised to see his name on the score sheet later in the season. His two biggest supporters and praisers on the team, Sarkisian and Ewers, are the ones who get to decide who’s getting the ball in their hands.

“We’re lucky to have him. I think he’s an asset for us,” Sarkisian said.

Helm exemplifies the strengths of what Sarkisian has done since stepping onto the Forty Acres in 2021. Two years earlier, the tight end group of Cade Brewer and Jared Wiley couldn’t eclipse 300 receiving yards on what ended up being the fourth-worst passing offense in the Big 12. After four weeks, Sanders and Helm have combined for 319 receiving yards already, all while throwing downfield blocks and opening holes for the talented Texas running backs. Sarkisian has created a tight end room that not only takes the strength of Brewer and Wiley’s blocking from 2021, but also aids one of the best passing attacks in the nation. 

It’s not hard to get caught up with the star power of this Texas football team. The offense has four players who could possibly be picked in the first round of the NFL draft, with Worthy and Sanders both at the top of their positions in the Big 12 and college football pool. Junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell is a national champion. Even running back Cedric Baxter, a five-star freshman, is getting a ton of buzz. It’s often easy to overlook the “Gunnar Helms” of the football world, but as Sarkisian has said, Texas football is lucky to have the sure hands and the committed mindset of its underdog tight end. 

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a sophomore journalism major from Washington, DC. He currently covers Baseball for the Sports section but has also covered Soccer and Men's Tennis in the past. In his free time he's either recording a podcast, watching sports, or constantly checking his fantasy football team.
Lorianne Willett, Double Coverage Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Double Coverage Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.