AUSTIN, Texas -- It was just December when, in a San Antonio hotel ballroom, Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite pivoted and positioned Jalen Overstreet across the carpet, running through the what-ifs and what-to-dos of what might be his first snap as the Texas quarterback.
Overstreet was to be the emergency quarterback in the Alamo Bowl. Or, to put it more simply, Texas' only other quarterback available if starter David Ash were to get injured. So Applewhite had to force feed him the playbook. Now, just a few months and a full spring practice later, Applewhite has taken away that plate and placed another in front of Overstreet. Texas has decided the time has come from Overstreet to take a few steps to the left or right, out of the spotlight and into the role of, well, the coaches aren’t so sure just yet.
"We’re going to look at different ways to get him the ball offensively," Texas coach Mack Brown said on Monday.
Sure, one of those ways could still be from the center. But Texas already has a guy for that -- Ash. Actually make that three guys for that -- Ash, Tyrone Swoopes and Connor Brewer. Notice Case McCoy is missing from that group. That’s because he is gone this summer for a 10-week mission trip to Peru.
So Texas has gone from depth -- five quarterbacks taking snaps in the spring -- to a dearth -- three QBs this summer -- when it comes to the most visible position on the field. And the Longhorns did it without suffering through a highly-publicized quarterback transfer or a fracturing of the team. Things just worked out.
As for how they will work out when McCoy gets back, the party line, the one given by the guy at the head of the party, is that McCoy will be the backup.
"He’s got a place he can work out there and a ball he can throw," Brown said.
What Brown failed to mention was that ball was more than likely manufactured by Mitre and the wide receivers are much better with their feet than hands.
Still, given the opportunity to say who would be the backup if the season started today, Brown emphatically placed McCoy in that position. The position of the other two players, Swoopes and Brewer, is really what matters now for Texas.
With Overstreet falling into the nebulous position formerly occupied by D.J. Monroe -- "He can run the speed sweeps, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run routes as a wide receiver but he still could play tailback and make some plays in the backfield as well," Brown said of Monroe last season -- and McCoy down with The Professor fashioning footballs out of coconut husks on Gilligan’s Island, the two young backups behind Ash have an opportunity to move up the depth chart.
"Obviously this will give those younger quarterbacks the chance to step up and play," Brown said. "It gives Connor and Tyrone a lot more throws than if Case were here and than if Jalen were still playing there every snap."
Swoopes had already moved into the No. 3 spot after a strong spring. There was some push that he could be the No. 2 quarterback by the fall. Brown, as he did Monday, dismissed that notion for now. Brown has been a proponent of redshirting freshmen quarterbacks. But, at the same time in the past few seasons, he has wrapped himself in the mantra that the best players will play no matter their age.
So the immediate future of Swoopes remains somewhat muddled and, quite frankly, befuddling to those inside and outside the program. It’s impossible to predict what the future will hold. After all, Texas is chasing the crystal without the benefit of being able to look into one.
What has become much more clear with Overstreet’s move and McCoy’s mission is that Texas now has three where it once had five. It has one starter, Ash, where it once had two -- or as recent as two seasons ago -- three. Now all that is left to figure out who might get the second spin around the ballroom floor and who will be left holding up the wall.