A new era has arrived in Austin, and the era is not only due to the hiring of an entirely new coaching staff.
The Texas Longhorns have been without a solid quarterback option since Colt McCoy left the 40-acres in 2009. But the four year quarterback drought appears to be over with the Longhorns signing 4-star quarterback Jerrod Heard.
|Year||Rushing Att.||Rushing Yards||Rushing TDs||Passing Comp.||Comp. %||Passing TDs|
During his time at Denton Guyer High School, Heard accounted for more than 11,400 total offensive yards and 134 touchdowns. He led the Wildcats to two back-to-back 4A Division I State Championships and won offensive MVP in the 2013 4A State Championship game. His MVP performance included 146 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns and was 9-for-9 passing for 97 yards and a score.
Heard's high school numbers are obviously impressive, but there is a learning curve between high school and college ball. Heard will not enroll at Texas until after the spring, so it is difficult to expect him to immediately take over for the Longhorns once he steps onto campus.
However, Heard's potential is the most promising the Longhorns have seen in many years.
In Front of the Heard
Heard brings a different dynamic to Texas that has not been seen since the Vince Young era.
The Longhorns have gone through a handful of quarterback prospects that did not pan out the way Texas fans would have liked. What sets Jerrod Heard apart from the quarterbacks of the Longhorns' recent past—Garrett Gilbert, Connor Brewer, David Ash, Case McCoy, etc.—is his ability to be a difference maker in the passing AND the running game, and his 67 rushing and 67 passing career touchdowns at Denton Guyer proves that.
Heard's ability to run and throw the ball has gotten the attention of a lot of the national media. ESPN's Trent Dilfer referred to Heard as a diamond in the rough on ESPNU's coverage of national signing day Wednesday. Dilfer also said he would not be surprised if Heard started day one at Texas.
The difference between Heard and the rest of the Longhorn quarterbacks is simple: Heard has an incredible athletic ability and is a true dual-threat option, which may not have been the case earlier in his high school career. Heard showed vast improvement in his throwing mechanics and gradually improved his accuracy throughout his time at Guyer.
As of Wednesday, the Longhorns will have three quarterbacks on campus in 2014: David Ash, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard. However, there may be a fourth QB to add to the list.
USC quarterback transfer Max Wittek could be headed to Texas.
If Wittek does indeed land in Austin, Heard should be able to get a redshirt season, which is something that has not happened for the Texas quarterback since Colt McCoy in 2005.
The best case scenario for Texas fans would be Heard getting a redshirt season and developing into the quarterback of the future for the Longhorns.
Will that happen?
Only time will tell, but at least there is hope for the Texas quarterback position—something that has not been said about the Longhorns for many years.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's lead writer covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.