As another season draws to a close, questions still remain for the Texas Longhorns, who have faced yet another year of disappointment. The biggest question, however, remains the future of the quarterback position.
The Longhorns were spoiled when former Texas quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy were at the helm, but since then, the position has been one that causes much angst and anxiety among Texas fans.
Ironically, the Longhorns, who are known for their incredibly strong recruiting prowess, have failed to meet expectations when it comes to recruiting quarterbacks in recent years.
It all began several seasons ago, Colt’s last, when the Texas staff went for broke in their recruitment of Garrett Gilbert, who was the National Player of the Year coming out of high school. After all, who could blame them for focusing their efforts on a kid that any school in the country would have welcomed with open arms?
But did that focus set the program back?
While the Longhorns concentrated their efforts on Gilbert and banked on his future success (again, why wouldn’t they?), many great quarterbacks from the State of Texas went unrecruited by the Longhorns (at least as QBs) in that same time span, including eventual Heisman winner Robert Griffin, III and the No. 1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck, both of whom were passed over in ’08 in hopes of landing Gilbert the following year.
Others, such as another No. 1 draft pick, Matthew Stafford, chose out-of-state-schools over the homestate Longhorns.
More recently, the Longhorns passed on current Texas A&M standout and Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel, who has publicly declared that Texas was his dream school growing up and that he always wanted to be a Horn.
Talk about salt in the wound.
Adding to the misses, the Longhorns lost a couple of the Longhorn QBs to transfers in that same time-span, including G.J Kinne, who had a solid career with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, as well as Connor Wood (who is admittedly not setting the world on fire with the Colorado Buffaloes).
Last season, when it became clear that then-junior Gilbert would not be a successful QB for the Horns, the team was inexcusably left with surprisingly little to go on. Gilbert announced his transfer to the SMU Mustangs before the end of the season, and all that remained were a redshirt freshman and a true freshman, neither of whom were highly recruited. As a result, the Horns were forced to throw true freshman David Ash into the fire long before he was prepared.
Ash has shown flashes of greatness. However, he has had three games in which he played terribly, including against the Oklahoma Sooners and the TCU Horned Frogs, both losses. Many now wonder if he is indeed the QB to lead the Horns in the next couple of years. I feel that he has shown he has the ability if he can just find the confidence. Case McCoy, the back-up, poses concerns of his own.
Yet, heading into the final game of the season, Ash is doubtful with a rib injury, and Case has been named the starter. It’s gotten to the point where the Horns’ punter transfer, Alex King, is taking some snaps at the position this week.
Waiting in the wings are freshmen quarterbacks Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. Because both are redshirting this season, we won’t know what they can do until next year. And who knows? David Ash very well could prove to be the guy, especially if he makes the huge strides he made this year next season.
Sure, college football recruiting is a game of hits and misses, but at this point it feels like the Longhorns have much more of the latter than the former. Again, there is no school in the country that would have turned down Gilbert, and who would have known that RGIII and Manziel would turn out to be as good as they have? And who’s to say that they would have even accepted an offer? But to not even offer them as quarterbacks is perplexing.
Is it poor recruiting?
Regardless, until the Longhorns can find a long-term solution at the most important position on the field, things won’t get any better and their hopes of turning it back around will remain just hopes.