The Texas Longhorns were given a bit of good news earlier this week when it was announced that junior quarterback David Ash would be available for spring practice, and had full medical clearance to compete after a concussion suffered early in the 2013 season against the BYU Cougars.
Lingering concern regarding Ash’s health had some wondering if the former Belton star had seen the end of his road on the Forty Acres, but at this point, signs are pointing to that not being the case. Texas is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt for Ash — which, in turn, would grant him an additional year of eligibility leaving him with two remaining — due to the fact he took part in less than 20% of the team’s plays for the season and appeared in less than 1/3 of their scheduled games.
With Ash in the mix during spring practice, the first stages of the 2014 quarterback competition at Texas are taking on a familiar look. Over the course of the past few years at the end of Mack Brown’s tenure, there has been annual indecision about who the team’s leading signal caller would be as the dog days of summer took over the cool afternoons of the spring.
2014 will definitely not be an exception to this established rule. Star commit Jerrod Heard won’t arrive on campus until the fall — unlike some of the other Texas quarterbacks in recent years who have enrolled early — so it’s a difficult task to being to surmise his place in the Texas scheme for 2014.
One thing’s for certain, Heard was dynamic and explosive in leading Denton Guyer to another 5A State Championship and showed all of the tools and athleticism which made him a Texas target from the beginning of his varsity career in North Texas. There’s a certain “it” factor to Heard’s game which is undeniable. The bigger question is whether, and how quickly, that factor will translate to him being able to compete on Saturdays in front of 101,000 plus in Austin.
In all reality, Texas doesn’t know much more about to-be sophomore Tyrone Swoopes than they do about Heard. Given the bizarre decision by Mack Brown to burn Swoopes’ red-shirt for a few snaps in garbage time during the second half of the 2013 season, the Whitewright native is down to three years of playable eligibility. This fact alone has encouraged some of the more vocal among the Texas fan base to demand that he jump Ash and start regardless of whether Ash is the de facto starter by experience alone.
Swoopes obviously has some God-given ability and athleticism, but there isn’t any sort of a substantial enough sample size to make a reasonable projection as to how this will translate to being the every down QB should the decision be made to hand the keys to him by Charlie Strong.
With all the uncertainty, Texas fans can at least take some comfort in knowing that the last QB with whom Strong worked one-on-one was Teddy Bridgewater. This says plenty in, and of, itself.
The question: Who will be the quarterback for the Texas Longhorns this fall?
The answer: Who in the hell knows.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and the Hiring Manager for Rant Sports.