AUSTIN, Texas -- There was a time not too long ago around Texas that the quarterback was not a liability, but an asset.
He was a player who could pass and run. He was the one who kept defenses guessing and off balance. The Texas quarterback was not just the best player on his team but one of the best players in the nation.
That six-year run ended in 2009, when Colt McCoy exhausted his eligibility. Texas took a step toward starting another such run when it secured the commitment of Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright), arguably the top quarterback in the state and possibly the country.
Suddenly the 2013 class that was producing so much anxiety for so many less than a week ago has all the same people anxious to find out who is next. Already Texas has commitments from the state’s top lineman, Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina); a defensive line prospect in A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/ Arlington Heights); one of the state’s top wide receivers, Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit); and Swoopes. Another commitment, that of top wide receiver/tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy, Texas/ Sealy) could become a reality very soon.
So much for that 13-12 record over the last two years putting a damper on Texas’ recruiting efforts. Of course, the blame for that record was laid largely at the feet of the quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
Texas changed coordinators and has had a turnstile at quarterback since, because it is seemingly looking for the next Vince Young or Colt McCoy. The belief is Swoopes could be that player.
At 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, Swoopes possesses the size and athleticism necessary to excel at the college game. He threw for 1,394 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven picks in his junior season. He rushed for another 2,267 yards -- 540 in one game -- and 27 touchdowns.
When Texas coach Mack Brown brought in co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin from Boise State, this was the type of player Brown envisioned Harsin molding. And if Harsin is the play-scheming genius that everyone believes he is, there is no reason to doubt Texas could have a fast-paced, innovative offense with Swoopes as the centerpiece.
Of course, all that conjecture and the enthusiasm of fans does need to be tempered. Many things can go wrong between now and then. Players fail. Garrett Gilbert. Connor Wood. Ryan Perrilloux. The list goes on and on. Coaches fail, too. If they don’t, they often leave for head-coaching jobs elsewhere. Make no mistake about it, this is a stepping-stone job for Harsin. He wants to be a head coach.
Swoopes, though, represents a huge stone for Harsin to boost his national profile.
But first Swoopes has to sign with Texas. That won’t happen for nearly a year. Then he will most likely redshirt for a year to work on his throwing mechanics and accuracy. Young redshirted a season and Brown continually brings this fact up in his analysis of what Texas needs to do to produce better quarterbacks.
Only then, in 2014, will Swoopes have the opportunity to start competing against David Ash, Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. What will be interesting at that juncture is whether Brewer will be just coming into his junior season or his redshirt sophomore season.
Because of the early commitment of Swoopes, it might be the former rather than the latter, even if Brewer just plays a backup role to Ash. That’s because now that Texas knows it has the quarterback it wanted locked up, the staff may be more apt to play Brewer as a true freshman to provide and extra year’s separation between the two QBs.
Of course there are years to speculate on the what-ifs and whens. But for now, the speculating on who will be the quarterback in the Class of 2013 has ended.