Lost in the Tyrone Swoopes vs. Jerrod Heard debate is the fact that the Texas Longhorns will, at the least, have a third scholarship quarterback on campus this fall -- Maryland product Kai Locksley, the late flip from the Florida State Seminoles.
Though Irving Cistercian's Matthew Merrick afforded the Horns a back-up plan at the position following Zach Gentry's late decommitment, Locksley's pledge gave the staff its desired opportunity to grayshirt Merrick and provided Texas another athletic, high-upside option in the son of Maryland Terrapins offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. So when Locksley's National Letter of Intent came through to the Longhorns coaches on National Signing Day, it sparked one of the biggest cheers of the day.
Considered an athlete by some of the services and having played wide receiver at the Under Armour All-America game -- Locksley will have the chance to play quarterback at Texas and he's already doing all he can to take advantage of his opportunity in Austin:
Livin' & Sleepin' in the film room rn.. Sole focus is just learnin the game & everything it entails thru the eyes of a complete quarterback.— Pretty Flacko (@LOCKSnLOADED_3) July 16, 2015
The growth is necessary because despite his pedigree coming from a coaching family, Locksley played in a pretty old-school offense at the Gilman School in Baltimore -- he only passed for 915 yards and five touchdowns as a senior, paltry numbers compared to the video-game spread offenses that are commong throughout the state of Texas.
Plus, he played wide receiver as a sophomore and split time with basketball and track, meaning that he needs a lot of reps to catch up with many other quarterbacks of his age.
Still, his talent as a passer isn't in question despite the fact that 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals all classified him among the athletes in the 2015 class. He just needs some refinement, starting with his footwork, and has a chance to grow under a well-regarded quarterback coach in Shawn Watson, who was so instrumental in the development of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
The arm strength is apparent, especially since Locksley creates almost no juice with his lower body. Once he begins to tie everything together, he'll be capable of above-average velocity since he still has the ability to stretch the field vertically using nothing more than pure arm strength.
With the ball in his hands, the projections as an athlete make sense because he has a gliding quality about his movement abilities with good top-end speed and lateral agility. He could be an excellent college wide receiver because of those traits and some ball skills that he flashed in the Under Armour game, but his athleticism puts him in the top tier of college quarterbacks.
Other than working hard in the film room and getting in extra passes with teammates, Locksley is spending time with a Texas legend who has a little bit of perspective on what it takes to shine under the bright lights at DKR:
From childhood idol.. To being big bro & my mentor. #VY @humble1002_inc pic.twitter.com/ZheUCvluA4— Pretty Flacko (@LOCKSnLOADED_3) July 13, 2015
Note that Locksley isn't talking about meeting VY -- he's framing Young as his "big bro" and "mentor," so this is clearly a significant relationship for the young quarterback, a fact confirmed by Horns Digest.
"Vince Young was a big role model for me growing up," Locksley told the same site back in February. "I had his posters everywhere, starting from when he won the title at Texas to his first few years with the Titans, winning rookie of the year.
"I definitely admired a guy like him who was a guy who showed, big, athletic quarterbacks are guys who can help change a program and evolve the quarterback position into more of a well-round position instead just one look.
Locksley is no longer admiring Young's legacy from afar -- he has a chance to play the same position as Young at the same school.
It's clearly something that the 6'3, 188-pounder takes seriously and though he'll almost certainly redshirt in 2015, Locksley has the look of a player who will do everything in his power to maximize his significant talents.
Ready for football season to start? Grab a copy of 2015 In the Huddle: Texas and make sure you're the most knowledgeable fan around the water cooler or at your favorite tailgate.