Texas Football: 3 backup QBs the Longhorns could get out of the portal

Zach Calzada
Zach Calzada /
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Mike Wright, Texas football Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV – USA TODAY Sports
Mike Wright, Texas football Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV – USA TODAY Sports /

Among the possible positional needs that Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian goes after in the NCAA Transfer Portal for the upcoming offseason, quarterback is not one that tends to stick out above the rest. Texas will have one of the most talented quarterback rooms in the entire country in 2023.

Led by redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers, this quarterback room will be comprised almost exclusively of blue-chip talent (at least among the top trio of guys). Texas will also have the likes of the former four-star recruit and to-be sophomore Maalik Murphy and the incoming elite five-star Isidore Newman commit Arch Manning set to man the quarterback room next year.

Despite all the talent that will be in the quarterback room for Sark, QB coach AJ Milwee, and the Longhorns next year, there are still some concerns present with this group. The biggest concern of them all is the inexperience factor.

Ewers will be the only Texas quarterback with live-game experience heading into next season (unless Murphy gets some reps in the bowl game later this month). With the departure of junior Hudson Card to the transfer portal heading into the upcoming offseason, Texas is left without much proven depth at the position.

It’s worth noting, though, that the only way Texas would probably be willing to consider taking a backup QB out of the portal is if that player brings proven experience and a certain talent level to the table that would actually help this position if needed next fall.

You will definitely notice that each of the three names on this list would be lofty portal targets for the Longhorns. Each would have to be willing to take the backseat to come to Texas. And I don’t know how realistic it is.

But each is quarterback is on this list for a reason given that they would probably have to take a backup job if they want to land at another Power Five school that has a shot to contend next year.

Backup QB options that Texas football would have an outside shot with in 2023

With that in mind, here’s a look at three potential backup QB options for the Longhorns to find in the portal in the 2023 class.


Mike Wright

There is a reason why we’re starting off the list with a risky option at quarterback.

Texas would have to be willing to take a bit of a risk if it wanted to go the route of a dual-threat quarterback with winning Power Five experience. But the trade-offs could be worth it if it ensures that Texas is in a good spot with its backup quarterback again in 2023.

In the hypothetical world where the Longhorns do pursue a backup quarterback in the portal this coming offseason, it would need to be a guy that has proven the ability to handle the pressure that comes with playing in significant Power Five games. At the same time, Texas won’t be able to get a guy looking to compete for a starting job immediately at his next stop out of the portal.

That’s why I think a guy like the former Vanderbilt Commodores junior quarterback Mike Wright could make sense for the Longhorns.

The biggest trade-off that the Longhorns would be making here is the scheme fit with Wright just to get more talent and winning experience at the Power Five level in the quarterback room. Wright doesn’t have consistent accuracy on some of the more difficult intermediate throws and on the deep ball that Sark might want.

If Sark and the Longhorns were going to take a QB like Wright out of the portal, they would need to adapt the offense to his game. Wright is a quarterback that can operate well going through quick reads and getting the ball to playmakers in space in the short passing game.

Wright also operates the RPO well given his dual-threat ability and how quickly he can go through his progressions to get the ball to the right place.

Yet, we saw Sark adapt the offense to the strengths that Card brings to the table in Texas’ win over West Virginia on Oct. 1.

I must say, though, that I don’t really know if Wright would be willing to transfer to a Power Five school where he wouldn’t have the chance to start right away. He might not be able to be that selective given how the regular season went for him.

Wright was shuffled between the starting and backup jobs with Vandy during the regular season. A couple of weeks into the regular season, Wright was benched for freshman quarterback AJ Swann. But a couple of months later, Wright would win back the starting job for most of the rest of the regular season games.

Swann and Wright did split reps, though, in Vanderbilt’s loss to the Tennessee Volunteers in the regular season finale.

Moreover, I like the idea of Texas adding a backup quarterback out of the portal with a dual-threat aspect to his game. We saw Texas convert a few key third downs when Card was forced to scramble to pick up the necessary yards to get the first down.

During the regular season, Wright picked up more than 500 rushing yards and five rushing scores to go along with nearly 1,000 passing yards and a dozen touchdowns through the air. Wright definitely proved this fall that he can be a playmaker when put in the right situations.

There isn’t a noted favorite at the moment in the race to land a commitment from Wright out of the portal. The next stop for Wright will depend on whether he is willing to sit or wants to have a starting job right away.