Junior quarterback David Ash is once again the starter for the Texas Longhorns, according to new head coach Charlie Strong at the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas on Tuesday.
The news hardly comes as a surprise after Ash took first-team reps throughout the spring and was on schedule to start the spring game
On Monday, Ash was cleared to fully participate in fall camp when it begins in a matter of days, along with a number of other key Texas starters.
Strong added that sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and freshman Jerrod Heard will have a chance to compete for the back-up role.
Inconsistent with his accuracy in the spring game, Swoopes still has some work to be to become the type of reliable replacement for Ash that the Horns may need if Ash suffers another injury season, as his history suggests is quite possible.
Meanwhile, Heard has quickly become a fan favorite throughout the spring, as many heralded quarterbacks who have never thrown live in front of fans become. Of course, his two straight state championships, massive overall production, and clear dedication to his craft in spending multiple sessions with quarterback guru George Whitfield have also endeared him to those looking for the next big thing at Texas.
Though gifted in his own right, Heard doesn't have the arm strength of Swoopes, but probably surpasses him in overall understanding of the game and his mental approach to it -- despite the fact that Swoopes has a year on Heard, the younger player may be more advanced in his development.
Call it a slight edge for Heard in the battle, perhaps. If the Denton Guyer product does win the role of backing up Ash, does Swoopes opt to transfer or consider playing another position? Being passed by a younger player on the depth chart is often a death knell for a player's career at a school, especially for quarterbacks, who often aren't willing to sacrifice precious eligibility to wait.
And is naming Ash the starter the right thing to do?
In a word, yes. Ash is clearly the best quarterback on the team, the exact reason there has been so much angst about his health status since the spring.
Former head coach Mack Brown was quite reticent to name Ash the clear-cut starter in the past, which may have undermined Ash's confidence as the type of player who feels he needs to earn a leadership position instead of simply taking control of it.
Now, Ash can enter the fall knowing that he doesn't have to look over his shoulder, as he often did with Brown ready to pull him in hopes of finding some magic with Case McCoy. In the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State in late 2012, Ash was able to overcome a poor start to finish strong for the first time in his career, perhaps in part because he knew that he was the guy.
As he is once again. Now, if he could just stay healthy, he'll have to a chance to that the highs from that season define him as a quarterback more than the lows.
If that happens, Texas could well contend for the Big 12 title.