Just one season ago Jerrod Heard looked to be the future of the Texas Longhorns quarterback position.
But when the situation changed, the 6-3, 201-pound sophomore didn’t miss a beat. He’s now a wide receiver, and a good one at that.
LHN released a feature today on the transition:
Heard is a Guyer High (Denton) product who’s already become just the seventh Texas player since 1980 to record a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in his career.
‘Horns defense coordinator Vance Bedford was almost prescient with his comments about Heard way back in August 2015.
“He could probably play wide receiver for a lot of guys, and be a starter and an all-conference player,” Bedford said. “When he starts running around, you just shake your head.”
Lo and behold, Heard now lines up at receiver.
He racked up a school-record 527 total yards against Cal last season, and went on to start 10 games at quarterback. Then a less successful Big 12 campaign, the arrival of Shane Buechele and a shoulder injury in spring practice changed the picture.
“I remember grabbing Shane [Buechele] and [Tyrone] Swoopes, and I said ‘let me work on my routes and my catching,’” Heard says. “I did pretty good and I took further steps: ‘Let’s see what I can do with a defender in front of me.’”
Heard says he still felt competitive with the other quarterbacks on the roster during the spring, but also felt he was athletic enough to make the transition and continue playing a key role for the team.
Coach Charlie Strong echoes his words, adding that Heard wanted to do whatever it took to stay on the field and help his team.
“I said, ‘what position do you want to play?”’ Strong says. “He said, ‘wide receiver.’”
Of course, OC Sterlin Gilbert and inside receivers/tight ends coach Jeff Traylor had no problem with the athletic playmaker adding another weapon to the offense.
The move became official shortly after the beginning of fall camp. Heard knew it was official when the black practice jersey reserved for quarterbacks came off.
Teammates were pretty much shocked.
“I was surprised he was even catching the ball,” says linebacker Malik Jefferson. “I didn’t think he’d be that good. It’s just one of those things where you show up one day at a new job and you perfect it. That’s what he’s been doing.”
Heard caught two passes for 73 yards against Notre Dame, and got not one but two receiving touchdowns the next week against UTEP.
Not bad for someone who had never played receiver before.