Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but an undersized, standout quarterback from Lake Travis wasn’t offered a scholarship by the Texas Longhorns and went on to success in the Big 12.
Sound familiar? If so, that’s because those are the stories of former Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, who walked on at Texas Tech and then at his favorite childhood school, Oklahoma, and Baylor’s Charlie Brewer.
If you watched ESPN’s broadcast of the game, you surely knew that Brewer was from Lake Travis and that his father was a Texas quarterback, and that the Longhorns never offered Brewer a scholarship. So he was ready to play against the team that spurned him. His father, wearing a white Baylor shirt, watched on from the stands, as shown on camera multiple times.
Rod Gilmore, having apparently done little research before the game and incapable of any other insightful color commentary during the game, beat those elements of the story to death. And then beat them some more. Yup, a last few kicks, too.
Good. And. Dead.
To be sure, there is a good story here. Robert Brewer, Charlie’s father, was a former walk on at Texas who played in a run-oriented offense, but still hit a big passing play to beat Alabama in the 1982 Cotton Bowl, ultimately earning MVP honors in that game. Brewer’s grandfather and uncle also played quarterback on the Forty Acres. Like his grandfather, Charlie’s got good wheels. His older brother, Michael Brewer, like his dad, did not.
Michael was offered a grayshirt with the Horns before playing at Texas Tech and Virginia. A member of the 2011 class, Brewer never picked up an offer because Texas took David Ash during that cycle, a decision that stands up in hindsight, as Ash was unquestionably a better quarterback until concussions forced his retirement.
And that context is necessary with Charlie Brewer, too, though Gilmore made no attempt at adding it even a single time.
Here was the scenario with the 2017 recruiting class — former play caller Shawn Watson made an excellent evaluation of starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger back during the summer of 2016 when Ehlinger was lightly recruited. Texas landed Ehlinger quickly and he went on to have a spectacular junior season that vaulted him up the rankings and earned the lifetime Longhorn some national interest.
Even when Charlie Strong was the head coach, there wasn’t much talk about adding another quarterback in the class, even though Texas was set to have only three on scholarship during the spring after Jerrod Heard moved to wide receiver, as did Kai Locksley before his transfer.
There is perhaps some room for criticism there.
Meanwhile, Brewer turned in a big-time junior season that featured a loss in the state title game to Katy and then a monstrous senior season — he set the national record by completing 77.4 percent of his passes, racked up nearly 4,000 passing yards, and threw for 54 touchdowns.
Still, he was only about 6’0 and 175 pounds, so Power Five schools were slow to come around. In fact, Brewer had committed early to Chad Morris at SMU, pledging at the end of his sophomore year of high school, way back before Ehlinger made his decision.
Towards the end of Brewer’s recruitment, he held offers from Bowling Green, Hawaii, Lousiana-Monroe, North Texas, and SMU.
When Baylor hired Matt Rhule from Temple and the new Bears coach went about building a recruiting class from scratch, he offered Brewer and secured the flip in late December of 2016. Brewer was the fourth commit in the class and ended the cycle as the No. 826 player nationally, the No. 36 pro-style prospect, and the No. 118 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
With three scholarship quarterbacks set to be on campus for the spring and the 2017 season, Texas reportedly offered Brewer a preferred walk-on spot.
Understandably, Brewer declined, though he likely would have earned a scholarship quickly.
So the big story here is that even though Brewer had a spectacular high school career and justified a higher ranking and more recruiting interest, it didn’t happen until Rhule had to find a quarterback with a matters of weeks until National Signing Day.
Every Power Five team that didn’t offer Brewer missed on him, and in hindsight, a bunch of them would have offered given a need at the position had they made the same strong evaluation made by Rhule and his staff. And by Morris before them. A bunch of those schools should have offered Brewer. As with Mayfield before him, though, that didn’t happen.
As for the Horns, the departure of Matthew Merrick during the spring resulted in Ehlinger and Shane Buechele spending the season as the only scholarship quarterbacks. Could Texas have used another scholarship player at the position? Probably so, but Director of Player Personnel Derek Chang wanted to save some spots for the 2018 class, which ultimately included Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson.
Now Herman and his staff have the most talented quarterback room since Chris Simms, Chance Mock, Vince Young, and Matt Nordgren were on campus in 2002. Ehlinger has emerged as a potentially special player. The staff did a fantastic job of landing two really talented quarterbacks for #RevolUTion18. There are two more committed in the 2019 and 2020 classes, including a successor to Brewer — junior Hudson Card.
Most of all, Baylor, Matt Rhule, and Charlie Brewer deserve the credit here. This isn’t a story of Texas failing to offer Brewer, it’s a success story of Rhule doing what no other Power Five coach would do and finding a gem in the process, even if it was partly out of desperation. It’s a story of Brewer making the most of his opportunity and quickly becoming a really good quarterback with a bright future.
Good for them. And shame on Gilmore for not doing his job better.
“I always say you give Charlie a chance to win in the fourth quarter, there’s a dang good chance he will win,” Michael Brewer told the Waco Tribune last week. “He always shows up big in big moments going back to high school. He’s got the ‘it’ factor. He’s always had that winning edge about him, and we’re seeing it now as he’s helping to turn around Baylor. They’re going in the right direction, and they’ve found the quarterback to help them do that.”
The “dang good chance” didn’t result in a win on Saturday, but the Bears unquestionably found the right quarterback. The key is telling that story right.