Texas Football: Offseason Goals for Longhorns Quarterbacks

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2015

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Tyrone Swoopes #18 of the Texas Longhorns runs with his team onto the field at the start of their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It is rare for a college football team to be successful without a solid quarterback. Texas fans understand this all too well.

The Longhorns' quarterback woes have almost turned into a punchline of a tired joke. But that's the reality of the situation for Texas.

The last time the Longhorns had a successful quarterback was during the 2009 season with Colt McCoy, who just so happened to lead the team to a berth in the BCS National Championship. Prior to McCoy was the infamous Vince Young, who brought the Longhorns a national title for the first time in 35 years during the 2005 season.

Texas fans were spoiled with two back-to-back college football quarterback legends, and the burnt orange crowd is praying for another standout quarterback to step foot onto the 40 acres.

The longtime saying is that quarterbacks receive too much praise in wins and too much criticism in losses, and quarterbacks at Texas understand this saying better than most.

Since McCoy graduated, Texas has had four different athletes start under center: Garrett Gilbert, David Ash, Case McCoy and Tyrone Swoopes. If you are a Texas Longhorn fan, you know the success rate of that foursome is not very high.

Swoopes was the last quarterback to lead the Longhorns. The sophomore finished his first season with a 5-7 record in games he started.

That type of performance does not cut it for the Texas faithful.

To be fair, the Longhorns were put in a bind after the first game of the 2014 season. Redshirt junior Ash was expected to be the starter for first-year head coach Charlie Strong's inaugural season in Austin.

But when his career ended after suffering multiple concussions, Swoopes was thrown into the lion's den and was not fully prepared to be the guy.

The sophomore showed signs of promise during a variety of games, but he appeared to regress as the season progressed and will have to fight for the starting role in 2015.

Strong made it a point to say that every position will be open as he prepares for his second year on the job. The quarterback position is one every Texas fan will anxiously follow.

The Longhorns have two scholarship quarterbacks on campus: Swoopes and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. Incoming 4-star quarterback prospect Zach Gentry is expected to be on campus later this year in time for summer workouts.

Swoopes may have the most experience right now, but many people expect the job to be Heard's to lose.

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 6: Jerrod Heard #13 of the Texas Longhorns passes during pre game warmups before playing the BYU Cougars on September 6, 2014 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Chris Covatta/Getty Images

You may be wondering why Heard did not take any snaps in 2014 if the job is truly his to lose in 2015. The answer to that is simple. The quarterback did not enroll until last summer and needed a redshirt season to learn the playbook and get used to the college game.

That is not a bad thing for Texas. In fact, it's one of the more promising things to happen at the quarterback position in recent history.

The Longhorns have not redshirted an eventual starting quarterback since Colt McCoy in 2005. And most college football followers would agree that it's extremely important for quarterbacks to gain a redshirt season, especially if they did not enroll early.

2014 may not have been the greatest season for the Longhorns, but having a redshirt quarterback on campus gives Texas a glimmer of hope for the future.

Redshirting Heard may have been the easy part. Now it's time to see if the quarterback can live up to the hype he had prior to his arrival in Austin.

Heard led his high school team to back-to-back state championship games during his junior and senior seasons. And the talented, dual-threat athlete finished his senior season with more than 2,000 yards passing and more than 2,000 yards rushing.

Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson was not afraid to admit that Heard was not ready to be a starting quarterback in 2014. But he did discuss his constant progression throughout the season.

As the Longhorns prepare for spring practice, the quarterback competition will be between Heard and Swoopes. Neither of the two appears to have a significant advantage over the other. However, Heard could have a slight advantage over Swoopes from a potential standpoint.

But the fear of the unknown could plague some Texas fans minds. Will Heard play up to his potential? Nobody knows.

What is known is both Heard and Swoopes have a little bit of time to prove their worth to the Texas coaches.

Who will step up to the challenge and take control of the starting job? Unfortunately for Texas fans, that question will not be answered for quite some time.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Recruiting star-ratings via Rivals.com.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.


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