For another week, Texas Longhorns junior starting quarterback David Ash will miss a start, this time against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Shootout. Ash continues to struggle with lingering effects from a concussion he suffered against the BYU Cougars in Week 2 of the 2013 season, playing only in the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats since.
Depending on how Texas fares against Oklahoma this Saturday, with the potential of a 3-3 start through the team’s first six games hanging in the balance, there has begun to be discussion about the potential of angling toward a medical redshirt for Ash which would provide him with two years of playing eligibility following the 2013 season. Doing so requires several elements, however, and isn’t as simple as Ash taking no more snaps in 2013 and handing over the quarterbacking duties to some combination of Case McCoy, Jalen Overstreet, and true freshman Tyrone Swoopes with a burned redshirt.
There are two primary qualifiers for any player to be theoretically eligible to obtain a medical redshirt:
* The player must not play in more than 30% of its team’s contests in a given season.
* A doctor must corroborate that said player was physically unable, or would have risked additional injury in competing after the injury which led to consideration of the redshirt.
David Ash has already “achieved” the first of these two criteria as he has appeared in three games for the Longhorns. Texas plays a 12-game regular season schedule, so were he to not appear again this season, done. Less than 30%.
The second element of the medical redshirt process is a little more dicey. The fact David Ash’s symptoms have lingered this far beyond the injury against BYU suggests plenty about the severity of the injury he suffered. Each player responds to concussions differently. While there are some set baselines and expectations about recovery periods, there’s nothing set in stone about weekly progress of a player fighting back from a head injury.
One has to figure that if Texas decided playing Ash in 2013 was a risk greater than any potential reward, there would be a “sympathetic” doctor tied to the team available to make the case for him earning a medical redshirt. The subjectivity of that process, however, makes it far from a certainty.
There’s no more certainty in trying to earn additional eligibility for Ash beyond 2013 than there is that the coaching staff would decide, even after a 3-3 start, that it doesn’t make sense for him to take the field again this season.
An even greater question is whose decision this ultimately would be? Does this fall in the hands of Mack Brown if the Longhorns are 3-3 after six weeks? Does he have the clout to determine the future of a quarterback that may no longer be under his charge when that decision pays its dividends?
These are questions without easy answers, and unfortunately for David Ash, he may have less control over his long-term future at Texas than it appears on the surface. He just as easily could become another pawn in a chess game being played behind closed doors and in the shadows of Belmont Hall.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.