Texas head coach Charlie Strong answered a lot of questions at Big 12 media days, but one of the most significant answers was his decision to name redshirt junior quarterback David Ash as the starting quarterback heading into fall camp.
"When David Ash is healthy, he is as good as any quarterback that we have on our roster right now," Strong said. "When you get into camp, you like knowing that you have someone to put in with the first unit. Before he was injured, he was competing for that position and won the position, so Ash will be the starter."
Strong said backups Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard will have the option to compete for the No. 2 spot, but he feels strongly in naming Ash as the go-to guy to lead the Longhorns at the beginning of 2014.
But a question that will follow Ash throughout the fall is if he can stay healthy to play for an entire season.
After throwing for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012, Ash missed the majority of the 2013 season with recurring concussion symptoms. He was cleared to participate in spring practice but suffered a Jones fracture in his left ankle and missed the second portion of spring.
If his health issues are in the past, one could wonder if he is the best option for the Longhorns in 2014.
Some will disagree, but Ash holds one significant tool that trumps his competition: experience.
"He has game experience, and that's what you look for," Strong said. "You're in a tough league, so you want a guy to take snaps who has been in the battle before."
|College Experience Comparison Among Ash, Swoopes and Heard|
At this point, Ash's experience gives him a big edge over Swoopes and Heard, especially considering the lack of experience between the backup duo.
Swoopes' experience includes some garbage-time play in 2013 and a mediocre showing in the Longhorns' spring game. And his spring game efforts were against the second- and third-team defenses.
Heard is coming into the college game as a two-time state champion for Guyer High School in Denton, Texas. But anyone with knowledge of college football understands that success in high school does not always equate to success in college.
And the fact that Heard did not arrive in Austin until the summer could likely lengthen the amount of time he spends on the sideline in 2014.
But is that necessarily a bad thing?
One could argue that quarterbacks and offensive linemen benefit significantly from having a redshirt season. And the last two Heisman trophy winners are the picture-perfect argument to defend that statement.
No true freshman has ever started the season and led his team to a national championship. Oklahoma quarterback Jamelle Holieway is the only true freshman to ever led his team to winning a national title, but he did not start the first four games of the 1985 season.
Some may disagree or be thinking, "There's a first time for everything," but it probably would not be a wise decision to bet your house on Heard leading the Longhorns to a national title.
From everything the public has seen from a healthy Ash, Swoopes and Heard, Ash is the best choice to lead Texas in 2014.
That is, if he can stay healthy.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's Featured Columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.
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