When the Texas Longhorns kick off the 2014 campaign against in-state rival North Texas, junior David Ash will line up under center.
New head coach Charlie Strong ended any potential QB controversy and announced his decision during Tuesday's Big 12 Media Days, as Rivals and Bleacher Report's Taylor Gaspar reported:
Charlie Strong said healthy David Ash will be the starter heading into fall camp.— Taylor Gaspar (@Taylor_Gaspar) July 22, 2014
Ash, who will be starting his third season opener in a row for the Longhorns, saw last year's campaign cut short.
After a very encouraging sophomore season, the Belton, Texas, product looked intent on repeating his success in 2013. He went 2-1, completing 60.9 percent of his throws for 760 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also added another 152 yards and a score on the ground.
A concussion sidelined him for the rest of the year, however, and he was ultimately granted a medical redshirt.
The injury bug struck again in the spring when Ash was sidelined with a broken foot, but he was recently cleared for practice, and that was all Strong needed to name his starting quarterback.
Who should start Week 1 for Texas?
Texas has some intriguing youngsters in Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard, who both, according to Strong (via Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com), "will be given an opportunity to compete," but the general consensus is that right now, Ash gives this team the best chance to win ballgames.
"It has to be Ash for them to have a chance," an anonymous Big 12 coach told ESPN.com's Travis Haney (subscription required). "Has to be."
Over the last two seasons, Ash has completed nearly nine yards per attempt with a solid 26-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He clearly has the talent to be one of the most prolific signal-callers in the conference, and now it's just a matter of staying healthy and staying on the gridiron.
Strong, via ESPN's Joe Schad, is making that a priority:
Charlie Strong: "I need (David) Ash. I told him "Get rid of the ball. Slide. Don't take the big hits.'"— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 22, 2014
The Longhorns, who have fallen short of 10 wins in the last four seasons, are right on the edge of most preseason top 25 lists. They already have a monster rushing attack, though, and a healthy Ash playing at his full ability would pave the way for improvement in 2014.
However, with Swoopes and Heard waiting in the wings, don't expect the junior's leash to be comfortably long.