It seems that the Longhorn interwebs are abuzz these days with speculation about whether the Longhorns will pursue a junior-college or graduate transfer to compete for the quarterback job in 2012.
There are some players currently on the market -- former Texas prep star Ryan Mossakowski, who still has two years of eligibility remaining after spending last season at Northwest Mississippi Community College and the previous two years at Kentucky, former Oregon State starter Ryan Katz, and former Notre Dame starter Dayne Crist, with the latter two eligible to play immediately, assuming that Texas has a graduate program in which they could enroll that their previous schools didn't offer.
Mossakowski is the only one of the three who has actual ties to the state -- he was born in Austin and played his high school ball at Frisco Centennial. A pure pocket passer with good size and a strong arm, Mossakowski was a four-star prospect by Rivals, but a shoulder injury sustained his senior year slowed his development in college. He spent two seasons at Kentucky, leaving last spring after it became apparent that he would't win the starting job.
A junior, Katz was the starting quarterback for Oregon State in 2010, completing 60% of his passes and throwing for 17 touchdowns, though he did also throw 11 interceptions and was sacked 33 times. He lost his starting job after one half of action in the opener and decided to seek his transfer after he lost virtually all practice reps to another quarterback. A broken wrist sustained in the final 2010 contest caused him to miss the spring. The major downside to Katz is that he doesn't have prototypical size for the position, which may contribute to his inability to effectively throw the ball downfield, the major reasons he was considered a borderline FCS recruiting coming out of high school.
The most impressive athlete of the three, former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist recently asked for and was granted his release from the Irish program. Crist lost his starting job during the season to Tommy Rees after battling back from injuries to both knees that cut sort his 2009 and 2010 seasons. A top-25 prospect coming out of high school by ESPNU, Crist battles some issues throwing interceptions during his career at Notre Dame, possibly a result of inconsistent release points and generally poor mechanics overall. However, Crist does have an exceptionally strong arm attached to his 6-5 frame.
So, which one of these players will the Longhorns pursue, if any of them? Actually, there currently aren't any indications that the Longhorns will pursue a short-term fix for the quarterback problems with Connor Brewer enrolling in the spring and Jalen Overstreet arriving in the summer. Given the lack of any rumblings coming from the problem about pursuing these options creates some serious doubt about whether Texas is even considering doing so.
The thought here is that Texas is making the right decision by deciding that the long-term future of the quarterback position is more important than the potential to find a fix for next season. Several compelling reasons underlie this position:
- Despite the need to relieve some pressure on Mack Brown with a greater level of success on the field, this team is not in win-now mode. With underclassmen at virtually every position on both sides of the ball, the timetable to compete for a national championship looks much more like 2013 or 2014 than next season.
- Each of these quarterbacks represents damaged goods. Unlike Russell Wilson, each of these players are on the open market right now because they lost quarterback competitions at other schools. As a result, there's no guarantee that any of them would be better than David Ash, Case McCoy, or Connor Brewer next season. Katz in particular seems like he's barely more physically talented than McCoy.
- Further splitting the reps would only further hurt the developments of Ash, McCoy, and Brewer. Consider where both Ash and McCoy would be now if one or both had received the reps that went to Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood during the spring, summer, and fall. In all likelihood, if the Longhorns are going to have success in 2013, it will be because one of the quarterbacks either on campus or currently committed makes a serious leap to becoming at least a consistent contributor. Bringing in a short-term solution for 2012 only decreases the likelihood of that happening.
To summarize, the Longhorns are much better served by attempting to develop the quarterbacks they have, rather than trying to pursue a quarterback who might only be on campus for one or two seasons. The upside is relatively limited, especially for the graduate transfers, because it appears that the next window for Texas to seriously compete for a national championship won't be until 2013 or 2014.
As poorly as both Case McCoy and David Ash played at times, mortgaging their futures on the risk that a transfer could make a difference in a year or two may in fact mortgage the future of the quarterback position at Texas. And that would cause many more problems than it would solve, even in the best-case scenario.
The unfortunate truth is that there are no easy answers to the position right now. No saviors, even Connor Brewer. The sooner that Texas fans accept that unfortunate reality, the easier that reality will be to deal with.