The Texas Longhorns have added another signal caller to the 2015 class with Friday's pledge from Irving Cistercian quarterback Matthew Merrick, who wasted little time in making his decision after picking up an offer:
Received an offer and am now committed to play qb at The University of Texas!! . #hookem— Matthew Merrick (@MattMerrick1933) November 21, 2014
However, Merrick may not actually be a full member of the 2015 class when it signs -- according to ESPN's Max Olson, the 6'3, 185-pounder plans on grayshirting initially, but may eventually have a full scholarship offer. Picking up a full offer is presumably dependent on how many other prospects add their names to the current class over the coming months.
If he does grayshirt, he would sit out the 2015 season and go on scholarship in January of 2016.
Ranked as a consensus low three-star prospect, Merrick is the No. 57 pro-style quarterback nationally and the No. 175 player in the state of Texas according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He held offers from Colorado State and Nevada prior to his pledge.
A camp appearance in July put Merrick squarely on the radar of the coaching staff and he had been in consistent contact with play caller Shawn Watson in hopes of picking up an offer from the Longhorns.
ESPN's Gerry Hamilton believes that Merrick is the top uncommitted quarterback in the 2015 class, though it's not clear if he's also considering West Mesquite's Chason Virgil, who just had his offer pulled by Mississippi State days before he was set to graduate and enroll early in Starksville.
Regardless, there's some thought out there that the Longhorns picked up an underrecruited prospect with some upside.
As with fellow 2015 Texas quarterback pledge Zach Gentry, who hails from Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado, Merrick is a project because he's not facing a high level of competition. For Gentry, it's because the quality of New Mexico high school football is not high. For Merrick, it's because Cistercian is a private school.
Along with a lanky frame that needs development, Merrick's decision-making is an area where he will have to grow -- he's thrown 28 interceptions over the last two seasons and his interception rate as a senior is 4.7%. On the positive side, hes thrown for 33 touchdowns in 2014, a tremendous increase over his junior season when he only had 12 touchdown passes.
Fortunately for Merrick and the Longhorns, he'll have plenty of time to do that and won't have much pressure on him early, as he's essentially being recruited for depth purposes and to ensure future competition if there are more injuries or transfers at the position.
He's a decent athlete who will have some functional mobility in college to make plays outside the pocket. Where Gentry has a cannon for an arm, Merrick's raw skills are more in line with someone like Connor Brewer, though Merrick likely hasn't had all the high-level instruction in private tutoring and camp sessions that Brewer had in high school.
Improvement with his footwork and strength gains should eventually help Merrick put better velocity on the football, as he has a tendency to drift on some of his passes -- he's basically all arm right now on a lot of his throws. When he does drive off of his back foot coming out of his drop, there's noticeably more zip on his passes.
Right now his best throws are touch passes down the sideline on fades or corner routes, but he does also have some ability to make plays on the run.
In addition to the competition level Merrick has faced, he's also a bit behind the curve because he focused mostly on basketball until his junior season, a fact that probably increases his ultimate upside and speaks to his need for development before he's ready to play.
Texas now sits at 19 pledges in the 2015 class, which ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 16 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.