Who will be the backup quarterback for Texas football in 2023?

Maalik Murphy, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Maalik Murphy, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The heavily-watched quarterback competition for the Texas football program between redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers and junior Hudson Card was finally decided last week. Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian named Ewers as the starting quarterback for the regular season opener over Card ahead of the second scrimmage of fall camp last weekend.

Ewers was expected to be named the starting quarterback for Sark and the Longhorns throughout much of the offseason. But there was a short timeframe when it looked like Card was actually pushing Ewers for the starting job in fall camp.

With Ewers getting the starting job heading into the regular season, the future of the quarterback room is starting to come into focus. Ewers is the now for the Longhorns and the elite five-star Isidore Newman quarterback commit Arch Manning looks to be the future.

It looks like the plan for Ewers is to stick around probably through the end of the 2023 season. If Ewers’ stock is high heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, I would expect him to declare after his third year in college.

Meanwhile, that would be the second year on campus for Arch, which is presumed to be when Ewers will pass the torch to him as the next starting quarterback for the Longhorns.

But this plan for Ewers to pass the torch to Manning in 2024 leaves one major question to be answered. Who would realistically be the ideal backup quarterback for the 2023 season is an interesting question for the Longhorns.

To answer that question of who would be the ideal starting quarterback for the Longhorns in a realistic scenario next season, we first need to look at who the candidates could be.

Assuming that Ewers is the starting quarterback for the 2023 season too, that would obviously rule him out from the running here.

And with Arch committed to the Longhorns 2023 class, that includes him in the mix.

The other candidates here will likely be Maalik Murphy, Charles Wright, and Card.

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room of Card’s status for next offseason. Many Texas fans expected Card to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal if he wasn’t able to hold onto the starting job this offseason. In fact, some still believed that Card would land in the portal as soon as Texas got a commitment from Ewers earlier in the offseason.

Can Maalik Murphy secure the backup QB job for Texas football in 2023 if Arch Manning redshirts?

I personally don’t believe that Card will stick around for long next offseason assuming Ewers is still the starter at that point. If he wants to compete for a starting job at any point of his collegiate career moving forward, entering the portal is probably the best route for Card.

After ruling out Card from this group, that leaves Murphy and Wright.

Murphy is a former four-star recruit that signed with the Longhorns in the 2022 class and is currently in his first year with the program. Fitting the bill as an emerging fan favorite with the Texas faithful, Murphy would be a very viable candidate to win the backup job next season. He is currently the quarterback getting the third-team reps behind Card and Ewers.

If Murphy can continue making some of the smaller strides we’ve heard him displaying in summer workouts and fall camp this offseason into next year, he should continue to progress up the quarterback depth chart.

Moreover, Wright is also a pretty interesting candidate here. For much of last season, Wright was the third-string quarterback on the depth chart behind Card and Casey Thompson. He only got a handful of snaps last season, which came in the dominant win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. But we’ve heard about some flashes from Wright when he’s getting third and fourth-team reps in practice this fall.

If Murphy either continues to battle injuries issues next offseason, or he just hits a wall in his development, there is a realistic path for Wright to be the backup quarterback next fall.

To sum this up, it looks like the most realistic bet in my eyes for the backup quarterback for the Longhorns next season is Murphy. He’s a quarterback with a ton of talent, he’s just a work in progress as a true freshman.

Considering how Arch is expected to take a redshirt next season, he wouldn’t be a viable candidate to win the backup job for all of his true freshman campaign.

That would leave Murphy as the likely backup behind Ewers and Wright taking the third-team reps at quarterback, as he did for much of the 2021 season.

Yet, this still leaves the question of whether Murphy will ever actually have a legitimate shot of winning the starting job after the 2023 season. Arch is going to be the next starter in line at the quarterback position for the Longhorns for the 2024 season.

Unless Arch runs into injury issues or doesn’t live up to the hype, Murphy will have an extremely difficult road ahead to win the starting job at any point.

The only way I can really see Murphy ever winning the starting job for the Longhorns is if he turns out to be one of the top three or four quarterbacks in all of college football. That would also likely entail either Ewers or Manning suffering a serious setback (probably an injury) at some point in the next two or three years.

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There is still a lot that can happen between now and the start of the 2023 season, but Sark and his staff are putting the necessary building blocks in place to have a very talented quarterback room well into the future. That will ensure that the Longhorns will always be confident about the depth at the position, evident in this conversation that a quarterback as talented as Murphy might have to fight to even get the backup job next season.