Months after coming close to using third-string redshirt freshman quarterback Charles Wright against the UTSA Roadrunners due to injuries, the Texas Longhorns quarterback position has shuffled once again heading into the Alamo Bowl with freshman Maalik Murphy set to serve as the backup to redshirt freshman starter Quinn Ewers, head coach Steve Sarkisian said on Thursday.
With redshirt sophomore Hudson Card in the NCAA transfer portal and Murphy moving past Wright after recovering from an undisclosed injury that slowed him early in the season, the initial practices featuring increased repetitions for young players will be key for the 6’5, 225-pounder.
“Early on in bowl prep a lot of young guys get a lot of reps,” Sarkisian said. “As many opportunities as we can give them to prepare and to show the growth that they have and Maalik is a great example of that — the idea that now you’re the number two and what do you need to do and how do you need to do it and how do you go about your business? It’s a great opportunity for him.”
A consensus four-star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class ranked as the No. 179 player nationally and the No. 12 quarterback, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Murphy has already missed significant reps in his career. At Junipero Serra in Gardena, Calif., Murphy didn’t start until playing in a six-game junior season shortened by the pandemic. As a senior, he suffered a collarbone injury before an ankle injury ended his high school career in the state championship game.
After arriving on the Forty Acres as an early enrollee, Murphy was limited during spring practice as a result of the ankle and didn’t participate in the Orange-White game. And then the undisclosed injury kept Murphy from assuming the third-string quarterback role early in the season before eventually surpassing Wright and receiving praise from Sarkisian for his progress.
“I think Maalik Murphy is another guy who’s got a bunch of upside who I’ve seen development in him,” Sarkisian said in November.
Although Murphy isn’t likely to play in the Alamo Bowl unless Ewers suffers an injury, as he did against Alabama in the second game of the season when he was driven into the turf on his left shoulder, Murphy’s growth over the next several weeks will serve as a springboard into the offseason quarterback competition that will also feature 2023 No. 1 recruit Arch Manning.
“So like every year we’ll go into the offseason and wipe the slate clean and let these guys compete and battle and see what it looks like, because that’s what makes us better and ultimately, when other guys are working at their craft that should motivate us to want to continue to improve our game,” Sarkisian said.
“And that would be no different than any other position — we have to give everybody those opportunities or we’re not living up to the idea that we’re a developmental program and if you don’t give guys the opportunity to develop and then show what they’re capable of, then I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth and that’s not right. I always trying to be upfront and honest with our guys and so competition is at the forefront of our program to go along with the development, and so that position is no different.”