There will be a changing of the guard when the 2014 college football season kicks off later this year and one thing that will signal the biggest change, within at least three teams here in Texas, is at the quarterback position. Among those three, the Texas Longhorns could have the most interesting one of all and if you think the veteran, David Ash, is a shoe-in to be named the starter going into the 2014 season, you might want to think again.
This might be one season where Texas Longhorn fans actually look forward to what their team will bring this coming season. Not only was there a changing of the guard at the head coaching level, bringing in former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to replace long-time Longhorn head coach Mack Brown, but the Case McCoy era will come to an end, giving way to a brand new quarterback for the burnt orange. However, after talking to Blake Munroe of 247 Sports, the position may not be as cut and dry as some may believe with four different quarterbacks, including David Ash, in the running to take the starting job in 2014.
We’ll start with the one guy everyone has been talking about from the moment he committed to Texas and signed his letter of intent, Tyrone Swoopes. The 6’5″ 229-pound quarterback out of Whitewright, Texas, will see the majority of the snaps during spring practice and headed into the summer, but that doesn’t mean Coach Strong is giving him the job. Swoopes saw very limited time on the field this past season behind the aforementioned McCoy and Ash. Despite all that, he’s still being compared to former Longhorn quarterback Vince Young, but more in stature than actual ability. Munroe told us on our show a few weeks ago that any comparison to Young is unfair because of the kind of career Young had as a Texas Longhorn, including his national championship victory against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a young man who begins his sophomore year in college.
On the other side, you have incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, the star quarterback out of Denton Guyer High School in Denton, Texas. The same Jerrod Heard who put on a show during the high school championships at AT&T Stadium late last year. Listed at 6’2 1/2″ and 195 pounds, Heard is not your prototypical, stand in the pocket and find his receiver, kind of quarterback, but it doesn’t mean he can’t use his arm to cause havoc on the opposing defense. He certainly did enough of that this past season with Denton Guyer on the way to a state championship. What Heard also brings to the table is the type of running quarterback that makes him dangerous to opposing defenses and forces them to prepare for both guys to show up. The guy who will set up in the shotgun and deliver a deep ball to his wide receiver, or the guy who will take the snap under center, try to find a receiver, then take off around the corner and pickup 20 or more yards.
Then you have the two veteran quarterbacks to come in with experience and may have the best chance to be the starter when the 2014 season gets underway, though one of them hasn’t officially made Austin, Texas, his home but most people believe USC transfer Max Wittek will be a Longhorn when all is said and done. Especially after Wittek told Orangebloods.com that his official visit to Texas was awesome. “Everything about my trip was awesome. From the coaches to the players, the school, the campus — it all probably exceeded what I thought it would be.” Wittek is another big, strong armed, quarterback listed at 6’4″ and 215 pounds and leaves USC having played just 14 games in the last two seasons behind Matt Barkley in 2012 and Cody Kessler this past season. Most of his experience came in 2012, taking over as a true freshman after Barkley went down with a season ending injury. In eight games, Wittek finished 36/69 for 388 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions.
The other veteran, David Ash, knows the Texas system all too well and was the starter for the burnt orange before losing most of his season due to issues stemming from a concussion. If there’s anyone who could be the odds on favorite to win the starting job for the Texas Longhorns it would be him, if for no other reason than he knows the system better than the other three quarterbacks who will be fighting him for the job. As the starter in 2012, Ash threw for more than 2,600 yards (2,699), averaging 224.9 yards per game and 19 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Coach Strong has a tough job on his hands deciding who will be the guy to lead the Longhorns into the future. Will he go with Ash, the guy with the most experience, or will he go with a guy like Wittek, who also has experience but not as much as the aforementioned Ash, or could he go with Heard or Swoopes because they give this team the best chance to win?
If you were Coach Strong, who would you go with? Who should be the starter for this team going into 2014 and beyond? Do you want to see Ash at the helm again because he knows the Longhorn offense the most, or is it time for new blood to make its way into this program?