The Texas Longhorns recently announced which players will be representing the university at Big 12 Media Day on July 22.
Center Dominic Espinosa, defensive back Quandre Diggs and running back Malcolm Brown will make the trip to Dallas. Espinosa was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2013, and is on the Rimington Trophy watch list for the second straight season. Diggs earned All-Big 12 honors in 2013, the second time he has been chosen by Big 12 coaches (he was selected in 2011). He leads the current secondary players in pass break-ups and interceptions. Brown became the workhorse running back last season when Johnathan Gray went down with a season-ending injury. Brown had 1,099 all-purpose yards despite sharing touches with Gray and Joe Bergeron.
This is a pretty solid group Charlie Strong has selected to represent the school. Usually you want your team leaders to be in front of the cameras on Media Day. These players earned the trip with a strong spring performance, and stepping up as leaders on a team breaking in a new coaching staff and playbook.
The one name absent from this list is quarterback David Ash. The oft-injured quarterback is just getting back on the field following a foot injury in spring practice. Still, I’m sure Texas fans would like to hear from the guy who will be leading the offense this fall.
Bryce Petty will be on hand for the Baylor Bears. Jake Waters is Bill Synder’s choice to speak on behalf of the Kansas State Wildcats. Heck, the Oklahoma Sooners are sending Trevor Knight, and all of his five career starts, to Dallas.
So where is Ash?
It is possible Strong wants to protect his quarterback from the bombardment of concussion-related questions that would come his way. No doubt Ash’s health is on everyone’s mind. Longhorn fans around the world would like to hear how he is doing. Ash’s injuries would be the focus of most reporters, possibly distracting from what the team came to Dallas to talk about.
Or maybe Strong doesn’t see Ash as one of the core leaders on the team. If this is the case, then Texas has a problem. Good football teams have quarterbacks that can carry the team on his back. A player other players have confidence in to lead a game-winning fourth quarter drive. The leader in the huddle needs to be your quarterback, not a running back or wide receiver. He doesn’t need to be the emotional leader of the team, but he needs to show some life on the sidelines and chew people out when necessary. Chad Hollingsworth telling Augie Garrido he wants the ball when the baseball season is on the line is the kind of leader teammates gravitate towards.
Ash has never been that fiery player. He is quiet, letting his play do the talking for him. There is nothing wrong with being a leader by example. Usually you just don’t see that from your quarterback. Some fans have been waiting for Ash to become more of a vocal leader. This may never happen.
Perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into Strong’s media day selections. Six other Big 12 schools are not sending quarterbacks. And to be fair to the three players Strong has chosen, those guys have certainly earned the right to represent the program.
It could be worse. The West Virginia Mountaineers are sending a punter.