How quickly things can change.
Less than six months ago, the Texas Longhorns were heading into spring camp with five quarterbacks on their roster. And now, with Connor Brewer recently announcing his intention to transfer out of Texas, the 'Horns may look sheepishly thin at the position following the 2013 season.
David Ash returns as the incumbent, followed by Nos. 2 and 3 in senior Case McCoy and Tyrone Swoopes, a true freshman who enrolled early, quickly earned high praise and is now a big reason why Texas' quarterback situation is looking undermanned.
With Swoopes jumping up the ladder in a matter of months, it has forced the hand of redshirt freshman Jalen Overstreet—who is transitioning to another position—and Brewer, who has yet to announce where he intends to transfer.
If all other things remain unchanged, the Longhorns will have Ash, McCoy and Swoopes at quarterback for the season. And with McCoy absent from Summer workouts while conducting a 10-week mission trip, it is not out of the question that Swoopes may wind up with the No. 2 spot at some point this year.
In 2014, barring another quarterback commitment, Texas will have a senior Ash, a sophomore or redshirt freshman Swoopes and a true freshman in Jerrod Heard.
If—and it is a big if—Swoopes redshirts, that would mean a whole lot of nothing, as far as experience goes, behind Ash.
A sophomore Swoopes would likely mean he saw plenty of snaps in 2013, enough to say he has marginal game-time experience. That would also put some separation between him and the incoming Heard, who, as another dual-threat quarterback, could embrace a redshirt year to ease into the program, as his expectations would be minimal.
In either case, the Longhorns would be crazy thin with experience, and if Ash does not deliver in 2013, then Texas is back to square one at the position.
Now obviously Brewer's presence does not change a thing about the depth in 2013, but he could still challenge Swoopes in 2014 with some healthy competition and perhaps overtake Swoopes. Hey, crazier things have happened. Competition, they say, breeds success.
In the worst-case scenario, Ash fizzles out and the Longhorns are forced to throw Swoopes into the fire early, which was pretty much what Ash dealt with when Garrett Gilbert did his disappearing act back in 2011. With Swoopes the top guy, only the incoming Heard would serve as Swoopes' competition during the offseason.
But regardless of hypothetical situations, there is little doubt that Brewer's presence would serve great purpose for the program's future. But to each his own.
What to Expect in 2013, 2014
Peering into the crystal ball, the safest bet is that Ash performs to an acceptable standard, while Swoopes gets his. If the coaches are serious about Swoopes seeing the field, it likely comes with set packages or during garbage time where he can, at the least, acclimate to the atmosphere of the college game.
In the awkward situation where Ash gets hurt, Texas has short-term and long-term options, both of which are reasonable perspectives.
Do the Longhorns run with the senior McCoy, arguably the safer route with the guy who actually has experience and has shown he can perform in spurts? Many will say that McCoy gives Texas its best chance to win if Ash cannot go.
Do the 'Horns roll the dice with Swoopes? If he is to be the next big thing, why not? He will have to step into the fire sooner or later, and if done with the right kind of support—regardless of seasonal outcomes—surely one would want that exposure early in his career to maximize his growth potential.
If Swoopes is the real deal, whether he eases into things behind Ash or explodes onto the scene to steal the show, Heard will be in a comfortable place, able to develop nicely to challenge Swoopes in 2015 at the earliest.
The Bottom Line
Texas loses Brewer, a guy who looked to have good command of a spread offense in high school and could have performed well in Major Applewhite's system. But at the end of the day, Brewer had to look out for his future.
The move puts the Longhorns in a very interesting position should anything unexpected happen, and their depth could be questionable moving into 2014. Texas, as any program would be, is keen to have enough competition within its ranks to produce the best performers.
But if it is not there, then it is not there. Just look at 2010 and 2011.
It would be a shame for the Longhorns to climb this high, only to fall apart because of frustrating quarterback circumstances.