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Texas QB Jerrod Heard has "closed the gap" on Tyrone Swoopes

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The battle to become the 2015 starter is now officially a true competition.

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The quarterback competition for the Texas Longhorns is heating up as the temperature creeps up into the 80s in Austin, as head coach Charlie Strong said Wednesday during a media availability that redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard has "closed the gap" on junior Tyrone Swoopes.

With Swoopes taking most of the first-team reps throughout much of spring practice, the statement by Strong represents a major development -- though Heard by all the accounts looked improved during a practice opened to media last week compared to the first spring practice, Strong still wanted to see the dynamic athlete stand in the pocket and deliver throws instead of taking off and running at the first opportunity.

Consider that mission accomplished, as Strong said that Heard has shown "tremendous improvement" throwing the football and making checks at the line of scrimmage, demonstrating better accuracy overall and the ability to make deep throws, a major concern entering the spring because of his historic issues spinning the football.

And his teammates are taking notice, which is not an insignificant development since both players are striving to show leadership through their respective performances in practice.

Perhaps due to Heard's development throughout the spring, he'll have a chance to work with the first team during the Orange-White scrimmage on Saturday that marks the conclusion of spring practice. The game will feature the first-team offense against the first-team defense at times, but Strong said that he intends on mixing up the match ups to get a better look at his team overall.

A true starter may not emerge by Saturday afternoon, but the battle to become the 2015 starter is now officially a true competition.