As the Texas Longhorns arrived in New Orleans on Thursday in preparation for Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs, head coach Tom Herman revealed that both freshman quarterbacks are with the team.
Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson both entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal recently, sparking speculation about whether one or both could end up leaving the program once the offseason begins.
Part of new rule changes implemented during the offseason, players who inform schools of their desire to transfer are entered into a national database within two business days. In the past, players had to request permission to contact other schools, but now schools are able to contact any players in the transfer portal. Even if they still remain enrolled and part of the team.
So coaches from other programs have been able to communicate with Rising and Thompson in recent days, creating an unprecedented situation in which the Longhorns coaches are forced to compete with other schools just to hang onto players currently on scholarship.
On Thursday, Herman indicated his intent to keep both freshman quarterbacks in the program.
“We don’t want to lose either one of them,” Herman said. “Nowadays in college football, that’s their right. That’s something that the football oversight committee, the transfer oversight committee, thought was a necessary first step. And we respect that.
“We’ve been very communicative with both families and both young men — they’re happy to be here, they’re happy to be a part of their team. I think this is the way of the world now. Guys that want to explore their options have that right to do so, but we also have the opportunity to communicate to them how important they are to our program.”
With sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger holding down the starting job, a reality that likely influenced the decisions by Rising and Thompson to enter their names into the portal, and junior quarterback Shane Buechele serving as the back up, neither player is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl.
So, are the players committed to their team? Are they all in with the Longhorns?
“I think it would be different if it was a guy who was playing a lot, but these are two kids who were planning on redshirting, even if they were to play in this game, this year would be a redshirt year,” Herman said.
“I don’t think it’s any indication of whether they’re part of this team or not — I think it’s simply guys taking advantage of a new rule. We support them. They know where we stand. We certainly want them back. We feel they are an integral part of our future, but this is the way of the world and where we are.”
Indeed, all parties involved are attempting to navigate the brave new world introduced by the transfer portal — the players are exploring their options with Ehlinger entrenched as the starter, potentially for two more years, and the coaches attempting to figure out how to maintain depth for the future.