The pursuit of former LSU Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris just got a little bit more pressing for the Texas Longhorns, as the school revealed on Tuesday that redshirt sophomore quarterback Matthew Merrick is giving up football to focus on his academics.
“I had a great talk with Coach [Tim] Beck, who was willing to help me with whatever I decided to do,” Merrick said in a release. “After discussing it with my family, I’ve decided to step away from the football team and focus on my academics at UT. If an opportunity were to present itself in the future, that’s something that I would consider, but for now, I believe it’s best to strengthen my academics as much as possible. I want to thank all my teammates, the staff, Coach Beck and Coach [Tom] Herman for their support, and I appreciate all the relationships I’ve built during my time with the team. I’ll always consider myself a Longhorn and will be rooting for them in the future.”
During Merrick’s redshirt season in 2015, he was a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, but doesn’t have a declared major listed on his Texas athletics biography.
The 6’3, 205-pound Merrick was still largely an unknown quantity, as he’s yet to appear in a game for Texas in his two years on the Forty Acres. Originally a grayshirt candidate as a member of the 2015 recruiting class despite scholarship offers from other schools like in the process, Merrick stuck with the Longhorns and eventually landed on scholarship for the 2015 season.
As a former basketball player who played at a private school and was late in committing fully to football, Merrick was always a developmental prospect, but was quickly approaching the stage of his career when he needed to show some progress to ever have a chance to play at Texas.
It appears that progress won’t have a chance to happen.
With only two scholarship quarterbacks currently on campus, the loss of Merrick is a not-insignificant blow to depth at the position, though Herman did say earlier this month that he was impressed with the athleticism of redshirt sophomore walk-on Josh Covey.
A Georgetown East View product, Covey played wide receiver last season before making the move back to quarterback.
Herman previously said that he team didn’t have any plans to add a graduate transfer or junior college quarterback, but more recently indicated his preference to keep former quarterback Jerrod Heard, a rising junior, at the wide receiver position instead of splitting his time between the two positions.
So getting another scholarship quarterback into the program by the start of preseason camp is now even more important for the Longhorns, thereby increasing the importance of Harris. The Louisiana product could shut down his second recruitment after visiting the Tar Heels this weekend, but does have some compelling reasons to make his planned visit to Austin.