National Signing Day is in five days. On Feb. 5, Texas fans will watch anxiously to see which high schools stars will sign with the Longhorns. There is a lot of uncertainty with this class after the coaching change in 2013. Several positions are in need of an influx of talent. None of these is more pressing than at the quarterback position.
When the national letters of intent start to come in, Denton Guyer (TX) quarterback Jerrod Heard is expected to don the burnt orange. After that, there are no other quarterbacks on Texas’ radar.
This seems a little odd considering Texas only has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster – David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes. The situation becomes more perplexing when you consider Texas may want to redshirt Heard this year.
So, should Texas be looking to add a JUCO quarterback to this class? Or maybe a graduate transfer? Rumors are swirling that former USC quarterback Max Wittek might have an interest in Texas. Wittek or not, finding a quarterback with college game experience should be a priority.
Why is this a concern? Let’s take a closer look at Ash and Swoopes.
Ash is coming back from a concussion. A severe concussion. This was not a situation where he had to sit out a game or two. Ash missed significant time. He played in just three games in 2013 (and finished only one). He was recently cleared to resume working out – four months after his last concussion. Ash was kept away from practices and games because the stadium lights and game atmosphere aggravated his symptoms.
The unpredictability of concussions has to be disconcerting for Longhorn fans. No one knows if the next hit Ash takes to his head will result in nothing, or end his season (and career). Concussions are still being studied; there is no set timetable for return like with an ACL injury or a separated shoulder. This uncertainty should have the Texas coaching staff preparing for life without Ash.
There is no Case McCoy to turn to this season. That burden falls on Swoopes. What was supposed to be his redshirt season in 2013, the sophomore saw limited action as the backup to McCoy, thus burning his redshirt. Regular season results were inconclusive – Swoopes completed four of seven passes for 18 yards in four games. In mop-up duty late in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon, Swoopes went 1-6 for eight yards (he did add 38 yards on eight carries). It was not fair to thrust a true freshman into that type of environment. If Texas fans saw anything in those final few minutes, it was that Swoopes still has a lot of work to do.
If you are thinking Heard would be the answer, remember that he will not be on campus until the summer. He would have a lot to digest in a very short time if Texas were to turn to him this season. This scenario does not seem likely.
Only Charlie Strong and staff know the answer to their quarterback question. Perhaps they feel Ash can handle the rigors of a full season under center. Maybe the coaches think Swoopes will prosper under a new system. Regardless, it looks like that unless Texas plans to bring someone in with college game experience, Strong is tempting fate in his first year on the Forty Acres.