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New Virginia QB Matthew Merrick contests Texas narrative of his departure

In an interview with a Charlottesville newspaper, Merrick says that he always planned on playing football again.

matthew merrick
Matthew Merrick
Jeff Howe (247Sports)

When former Texas Longhorns quarterback Matthew Merrick left the program back in March, a release from the school quoting Merrick indicated that the redshirt sophomore was stepping in away in order 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. “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.”

So there’s no question that it was something of a surprise when news broke on Wednesday from Charlottesville that Merrick is transferring to the Virginia Cavaliers program.

However, it shouldn’t be that surprising, according to Merrick, who told the Daily Progress that the statement from the ‘Horns didn’t accurately reflect his own version of the events that led to his departure.

“I never really had in my mind that I wasn’t going to play football,” Merrick told the newspaper. “I just knew that I would need a different scene. I’m pretty sure that when it came out on Texas’ end, it looked like I was just focusing on academics and that I didn’t really want to play anymore. But that wasn’t really the conversation that was had, but there always has to be a narrative, and that was it.”

Merrick went on to note that he’s always planned on playing football again after leaving Austin.

Why the school framed Merrick’s departure in a way that he now contests isn’t exactly clear, though the former quarterback’s statement does raise questions about how much new head coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck wanted him in the program.

Consider that the newest passer for the ‘Hoos announced his decision to give up football for the ‘Horns on March 21, the day that Herman held his third spring practice in Austin.

If Herman and Beck did indeed push Merrick out, it happened extremely quickly.

Since Texas now only has two scholarship quarterbacks on campus, the offensive braintrust must have really disliked what they saw from the redshirt sophomore to oust after seeing so few of his practice reps.

Maybe Herman just really loves walk-on Josh Covey that much.

In the end, the behind-the-scenes story will probably matter less as it relates to the quarterback depth chart, but with several other notable offseason departures from higher-rated recruits, all the early data points are intriguing in getting the first looks at how Herman will manage his rosters at Texas.