Could Texas Longhorns redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers return for the 2024 season as the Longhorns move to the SEC?
After Ewers made his comeback from a Grade 2 AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder on Saturday against the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth after missing two games, buzz began building on Sunday evening that Ewers is increasingly considering a third season on the Forty Acres with a report from Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods.
Here is my original reporting on the Ewers situation from Sunday night, in case anyone missed it two days ago. pic.twitter.com/WGlkzKF4Q9— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) November 14, 2023
On Tuesday morning, the confidence in that possibility increased significantly via a report from Bobby Burton of Inside Texas, placing the odds at 90 percent or higher.
Sources told @BobbyBurton87 Quinn Ewers is expected to return to Texas next season.— Inside Texas (@InsideTexas) November 14, 2023
"The decision may have already been made, but it’s at least 90 percent right now,” a source said.
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Not long thereafter, ESPN’s Pete Thamel provided modest pushback against that level of optimism, confirming conversations about Ewers and his future while obliquely referencing that there are still two months until the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, as well as at least three and as many as five games remaining for the Longhorns this season.
Sources: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers has yet to decide on whether to declare for the NFL Draft. There’s been early conversations about a potential return to Texas, but “there’s a long way to go.”— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 14, 2023
Three factors loom large for the 6’2, 195-pounder.
The first is his injury history. As a junior at Southlake Carroll, Ewers missed six games due to injury before skipping his senior season to enroll at Ohio State. After transferring to Texas months later, Ewers suffered a sprain to his SC joint in his left shoulder against Alabama, missing the next three games. And then, of course, Ewers left the win over Houston with his shoulder sprain and sat out two games. So there’s not only increasing concern about whether Ewers is durable enough to remain healthy in the NFL, he’s also lost a significant number of game reps in missing parts of seven games over the last two seasons, making his evaluation more difficult.
The second factor for Ewers is the crowded quarterback draft class in 2024. Prior to the season, USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye loomed as the clear top two draft-eligible quarterbacks with room behind them for Ewers to capitalize enough on his immense potential to take over the No. 3 spot.
Instead, the strong play of quarterbacks like Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix combined with the flashes of potential from Duke’s Riley Leonard, Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, Colorado’s Shadeur Sanders, Tulane’s Michael Pratt, and LSU’s Jaylen Daniels have seemingly pushed Ewers out of first-round consideration and towards the edge of the top-10 draft-eligible quarterbacks.
McCarthy, Sanders, and Pratt could all opt to return for reasons similar enough to Ewers, but the projected 2025 quarterback draft class still isn’t projected to be nearly as strong as 2024.
And the third and related factor is, of course, NIL — if Ewers is going to fall into the second day of the 2024 Draft, the amount of money he could make from his name, image, and likeness at Texas combined with the potential to become a first-round draft pick could be enough to offset what he could make as second- or third-round draft pick next season.
Though a potential return by Ewers was once considered extremely unlikely, the shoulder injury suffered in Houston accelerated the change in calculus surrounding his pending decision about the 2024 NFL Draft in a way that could benefit Texas tremendously next season while simultaneously raising concerns about how that decision would impact the rest of the quarterback room on the Forty Acres.