Quarterback situation too much of a good thing

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Garrett Gilbert has two seasons left as Texas’ starting quarterback, but then what?
Garrett Gilbert has two seasons left as Texas’ starting quarterback, but then what?

Schools like Texas deserve the best recruits in the nation, and the Longhorns like to take as many as they can get.

Three talented receivers? Sure. Five huge offensive linemen? Can’t ever have too many of those. A couple of linebackers? Why not.

Taking multiple prospects at the same positions works out fine, because they can all play at the same time. Offenses sometimes run empty sets with five wideouts, four defensive backs need to be on the field, defensive tackles rotate around all the time and most teams like to have a fresh running back in relief.

But there just don’t need to be this many quarterbacks.

Taking two of ‘em in 2010 was one thing. Taking David Ash last year was another, as is bringing in Connor Brewer in 2012. By the time Garrett Gilbert is a senior, there will be five quarterbacks on scholarship (assuming none of them transfer ... and in that case there will be four.) 

There’s bound to be a quarterback controversy brewing soon, and it might be a bad one. Gilbert might lose all confidence in himself as fans clamor for somebody else. Connor Wood’s talent might get thrown out with the garbage — or taken to Tulsa. The coaches might piss off Colt McCoy if they don’t give his youngest brother Case any looks. David Ash is in danger of being swept under the rug if the more extroverted Brewer arrives on campus next summer and becomes the most popular man on the team.

And that’s not quite it — Wood, McCoy, Ash and Brewer might all be playing second fiddle to Whitewright High School quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who is widely considered the best 2013 player in the state and looks like the second coming of Vince Young.

Yes, it is sensible for the coaching staff to plan ahead in case of injury, attrition or disappointment, and load the quarterback cupboard accordingly. But this is too much. Waaaayyy too much. Good quarterbacks need at least two years as the starter to develop to their fullest potential — unless you’re Cam Newton — and that won’t ever happen here.

Let’s say it plays out like this:

2011: Gilbert starts (Jr.), Wood transfers and Ash redshirts
2012: Gilbert starts (Sr.), Brewer redshirts
2013: McCoy starts (Sr.)
2014: Ash (Jr.) or Brewer (So.) enters the year as the starter

That doesn’t look good. McCoy gets just one year to show what he can do, Texas loses Wood and then Ash and Brewer (assuming they redshirt — if they don’t, this is even more complicated) are stuck behind each other for two years. Where does that leave the door for somebody like Swoopes or anybody else to come in? Who wants to sit for three seasons?

The two most successful Texas quarterbacks since James Street were Vince Young and Colt McCoy. They both redshirted their first year, and then started or received significant playing time in their redshirt-freshman season (Colt started, Vince initially shared snaps with Chance Mock). This isn’t any coincidence.

Blue-chip quarterbacks expect to start for more than just a few seasons in college, because they’ve never spent much time on the bench in high school. And most of them are welcome to competition, which is probably what Texas is trying to foster through all of this — natural selection, if you will.

“Those quarterbacks there did not do anything to affect me coming to Texas,” Brewer said earlier this week. “There’s going to be competition everywhere.’

But not quite like this.

It’s almost as though Mack Brown is figuring out ways to ensure his team is quarterbacked by a top arm, while simultaneously ensuring that rival teams don’t get these guys on campus (wait, no, that’s exactly what he’s doing).

That helps Texas, sure. They would much rather have Connor Wood playing for Tulsa than Oklahoma (the Sooners went hard for him) and they would rather have McCoy play at Houston than Texas A&M. Just hope the Longhorns are ready for a messy public relations crisis, as well as a few burnt bridges — especially with the McCoy family.

Making all of this worse is the fact that the Longhorns keep missing out on strong state-bred talent. Andrew Luck tore it up at Houston Stratford. Robert Griffin is from Copperas Cove. Nick Foles played 10 minutes away at Westlake High. All three of them will be professional athletes in a year or so, no doubt about it.

You can’t say that so confidently about any quarterback on Texas’ roster. But surely if the Longhorns keep recruiting even more of them — five or six, perhaps nine — they’re bound to eventually find one they like. 

Read more about Connor Brewer here.