Jerrod Heard won’t practice again this spring for the Texas Longhorns, and it’s altered coach Charlie Strong’s hope for having his starting quarterback in place before the team reconvenes in August.
Whether Strong really would have named a starter by the end of the April 16 spring game is debatable. Would he have seen enough from Tyrone Swoopes, Heard or true freshman Shane Buechele to make a definitive move? Well, maybe. Considering Swoopes has never shown the ability to be the every down starter, and Buechele has never taken a college snap, Heard, who started 10 games last season, likely would have been the safe choice until proven otherwise.
Heard sustained a minor shoulder strain a week ago during practice, and with only four more practices scheduled before the Orange & White Game, Texas coaches have decided to hold him out the rest of the way.
Strong addressed his QB situation after Tuesday’s practice, saying: “You allow them to compete and play its way out. If we have to go into fall camp, that’s what we’ll do.”
Strong called the QB competition “very good,” and he also had some interesting comments about Beuchele’s progress.
“Just the knowledge of the offense, and he’s doing a really good job of learning, picking up,” he said. “Shane is like a gym rat. He’s always around, he’s always learning, he’s willing to learn, and when you get a player like that he’s only going to make the other two guys better because they see how hard he works, and it drives them to work even harder. I would not be afraid to start him at all, because I know he would go out there and compete and do what we ask him to do.”
Sounds more like a description a coach would use for a veteran leader and not an early enrollee going through his first spring workouts. Which QB Strong and new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert picks is going to be critical. It doesn’t take a football genius to know that.
Longhorns 2017 quarterback commit Sam Ehlinger certainly seems to know it. Ehlinger, who continues to receive rave reviews at every elite camp he attends, recently told SB Nation national recruiting analyst Bud Elliott that if Texas has a good 2016 season, it will be turning away recruits for his 2017 class.
“Everyone, everyone,” Ehlinger said. “If we have a good year, it won't be about how many we can get, but about who we want and who we have to turn down. This year is crucial for the program. I believe we're going to have a great year and turn things around.”
Strong has made what appears to be significant progress in bringing in elite talent with a strong close to both the 2015 and 2016 classes. Ehlinger is right. Now it’s time to show the coming class of high school seniors that the talent is in place to win and that the class of 2017 can come in and put the program back on the national stage.