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Texas early enrollee Shane Buechele has traits his OC wants in a QB

Now elevated from the third team to the second with Jerrod Heard's injury, the heady young player can make his case for the starting job.

Shane Buechele (left) at practice
Shane Buechele (left) at practice
via @CoachBedfordUT

Coaches aren't always forthcoming about the exact dynamics behind the scenes, but in listening to new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert discuss the Texas Longhorns quarterbacks and what he expects from them, there's some remarkable overlap with early enrollee Shane Buechele.

The requirements for Gilbert aren't exactly revolutionary, but his first spring press conference did provide some perspective on exactly what he wants.

"They have to be intelligent," Gilbert said. "Obviously, they have to able to throw around and be accurate with the ball, and just understand what we do. If you are that intelligent and that high of a football IQ, and you equate those things then you have a guy that has a chance to be successful with what we do."

Let's compare those requirements with what the former Texas high school quarterback has seen from the most recent Texas high school quarterback on the roster in Austin.

"He's headsy," Gilbert said. "He's got a live arm about him. He carries himself well. He's got a high football IQ, competitive, and just a guy that he's urgent about what he does and how he does it. But he's got a lot of room for growth or improvement."

Intelligence? Check. Witness the 4.0 grade-point average in high school. Live arm? Check. Just reflect back on Buechele nearly winning the Elite 11 Finals and his ability to excel as a high school pitcher and shortstop.

Those are two big requirements for Gilbert, and the comment about urgency suggests that Buechele is putting in the preparation he needs to learn an offense that the other quarterbacks are also beginning to understand on the fly.

After all, Buechele was the guy who watched Tulsa film on YouTube before getting to Austin in addition to picking the brain of Golden Hurricane quarterback Dane Evans, a breakout player under Gilbert last year in throwing for 4,332 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2015.

Reports from practice indicate that he may be the most decisive of the entire group of quarterbacks, a result of processing the game quickly and understanding what he's seeing, not to mention that prep work he started in December. By a week into spring practice, head coach Charlie Strong was already impressed with Buechele's ability to know where to put the football.

In high school, that was certainly a quality that benefitted Buechele, as he completed 68.1 percent of his passes as a junior and 64.6 percent as a senior. Meanwhile, his interception rate hovered at just over two percent both of this seasons.

When the Arlington Lamar product arrived in Austin, all he wanted was an opportunity. He got it in quickly surpassing redshirt freshman Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick for repetitions and probably benefitted from Gilbert allowing each quarterback to make an impression on him without any pre-conceived notions.

"I guess I am pretty excited going in and having the same slate as the other guys," Buechele told ESPN before he got to Austin.

By all accounts, it has worked out for him.

Listed at 6'1 and 191 pounds by the Longhorns, a bigger concern with Buechele than his ability to learn the offense and make the right decisions on the field is his durability. After splitting time with baseball in high school, his full focus is on football, but this is the first chance that he's had to get serious about the weight room during the offseason and there's some growth left for him to achieve.

The favored comparison with Buechele is to former star Colt McCoy, who also came to Texas underdeveloped physically after doing even more at Tuscola than Buechele did at Lamar. The difference is that Buechele might not necessarily be able to redshirt and add significant strength as McCoy did in 2004 while learning behind Longhorns legend Vince Young.

Buechele is also a little bit shorter and may not have the preternatural accuracy of McCoy, nor the presence of unusually mature receivers like Quan Cosby. However, there is size and speed in the wide receiver corps unlike what Texas had in those days -- Collin Johnson, John Burt, and DeAndre McNeal. So the accuracy that Buechele does possess, which is better than many of his peers around college football, could end up being enough to unleash the potential of those big threats.

What seems increasingly apparent is that Buechele will do everything possible to take advantage of sophomore quarterback Jerrod Heard's minor shoulder sprain and has an extremely high floor that could make him a viable option this fall.