Texas Football: Quinn Ewers' return cements UT as SEC contender

The first season for Texas football in the SEC in 2024 will see third-year starting quarterback Quinn Ewers leading a high-powered offense in Austin. Can that vault the Longhorns to the heights of an SEC title contender in their first year in the conference?

Quinn Ewers, Texas football
Quinn Ewers, Texas football / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas football fans got great news on Jan. 11, with the announcement on social media by redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers that he will return for another year in Austin. Ewers announced on his Instagram and Twitter/X accounts on Jan. 11 that he will return for his third season at Texas in 2024.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns will have a third-year starting quarterback leading this offense in their first year in the SEC in 2024 since Ewers returns to Texas for another season. Ewers' return to Texas will open up the offensive playbook for Sarkisian and staff since they have an experienced, talented, and proven multi-year starter leading this unit for a third year.

Ewers emerged among the most improved and efficient passers in the Big 12 during the 2023 season. He was the most improved passer in the Big 12 year-over-year in 2023, according to PFF passing grades.

During the 2023 season, Ewers completed 69 percent of his passing attempts for 3,479 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, six interceptions, and 75 rushing yards with five rushing scores. All of those season statistics Ewers registered in 2023 were career highs.

Ewers also played some of his best football of the season in the most important games down the stretch. He set multiple quarterback records in the Big 12 Championship Game, including passing yards (452) and passing touchdowns (four).

And despite getting off to a slow start in the College Football Playoff Semifinals game at the Sugar Bowl against No. 2 Washington on Jan. 1, Ewers responded with a strong second half performance. Ewers' bounce-back second half saw him register over 300 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and no turnovers in the one-possession loss to Washington in the Sugar Bowl.

Ewers gets a chance to improve his NFL Draft stock with another year at Texas

Not only does Ewers' decision to return to school for another year help the program compete on a national level in 2024, but it can also help boost his NFL Draft stock for 2025. Another year of development in Sarkisian's system gives Ewers a chance to further refine his mechanics and pocket presence.

We've always known that Ewers had the talent to be a top-five pick in the NFL Draft. He has the potential to reach that status if he improves again year-over-year, with the Longhorns heading into the SEC in 2024.

Texas looks to be loaded on offense entering the SEC in 2024

Up front and in the backfield, Texas returns one of the most talented and experienced groups in the SEC in 2024. Texas does lose key pieces in the receiving corps (with all three starters headed for the NFL Draft this spring) and its top starter at tight end (Ja'Tavion Sanders) and running back (Jonathon Brooks).

Yet, Texas returns two of its three most productive running backs from last year's squad and four of five starting offensive linemen. Ewers will have the best offensive line we've seen on the Forty Acres in a long time blocking in front of him.

And he'll have plenty of talent in the backfield at running back to complement the passing game.

Even though the Longhorns lose all three starting receivers to the NFL Draft in 2024, Sarkisian and WR coach Chris Jackson have done a great job loading up on talent and depth via high school and portal recruiting in the last year.

Texas already added the former Houston Cougars sophomore wide receiver Matthew Golden via the transfer portal this offseason as an immediate impact starter to help replace what they're losing at the position. The Longhorns also added an immediate impact receiver via high school recruiting in the 2024 class in St. Louis University (MO) five-star Ryan Wingo.

Sarkisian, Jackson, and the Longhorns are not done evaluating talented and proven impact receivers in the portal early this offseason. We expect Texas to add at least one more immediate impact starter at receiver via the transfer portal in the coming weeks.

Between having the best offensive line he's ever had blocking in front of him, a loaded backfield, and a reloaded receiving corps, Ewers will have all the tools to reach superstar levels at Texas in 2024.

Given the trajectory of his development in the previous two years at Texas, there's no reason to doubt that he will continue to make significant strides as a top-tier NFL quarterback prospect and a great leader of this offense as a junior.

Texas enters the SEC with title contender expectations in 2024

The Longhorns are already viewed as a potential top three or five team in college football in the way-too-early rankings for the 2024 season. ESPN, among a handful of other publications, ranked the Longhorns among the three best teams in their way-too-early poll for 2024.

Ewers' return is the final domino that needed to fall to cement the Longhorns status as a potential top five team in the country for the 2024 season.

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