If Ash can stay healthy then Texas probably has its starting quarterback. But that's a big "if" considering what he's been through over his career.
Ash, of course, missed the majority of the 2013-14 season due to concussion-like symptoms. He played the first two games but left the BYU game with a concussion, which forced him to miss Texas' next game against Ole Miss. Ash returned the following week against Kansas State but suffered another head injury in the first half and never returned.
Ash has been cleared to fully participate in spring practice, which is a huge boost for he and the program. When healthy, Ash was one of the Big 12's best. In the three games he played, he completed 53-of-87 passes for 760 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. That included posting a career-high 434 yards of total offense and a passing efficiency rating of 207.2 against New Mexico State.
But there's a big unknown with how Ash will handle contact when he is hit. Concussions aren't anything to take lightly. Will he be able to handle the inevitability of being knocked around?
While Swoopes will be classified as a sophomore, he might as well be a freshman when it comes to playing experience. He saw action in six games but didn't do much completing 5-of-13 passes for 26 yards, and also rushing 20 times for 79 yards and one touchdown.
Many scratch their head at the handling of Swoopes' freshman season. He didn't play until the middle of the season in a late-game blowout of TCU and then playing sparingly after that behind struggling starter Case McCoy.
But that's all in the past for Swoopes, who has a golden opportunity to begin his legacy as a Texas starting quarterback this spring. You just wonder if he has the mental makeup for it right away given what we saw last season when he looked uncomfortable in the pocket and didn't hit his targets consistently.
What will help is the that he'll get plenty of snaps this spring as, really, only one of two quarterbacks on the roster. Heard won't get to campus until this fall and Wittek's transfer wouldn't happen until after spring practice is over. Will he take advantage of the opportunity?
Longhorns fans have been waiting for Heard to step under center in Austin from the moment he committed to Texas, and who can blame them?
All the five-star dual-threat quarterback accomplished over his storied high school career was lead Denton Guyer to back-to-back state championships with dominating individual performances on the state's biggest stage. As a junior, he completed 155-of-250 passes (62 percent) for 2,090 yards and 17 touchdowns. He added 2,138 yards on the ground with 35 scores.
He plays with a maturity beyond his years, which is why you figure he's going to be in the mix this fall. Ideally, the Longhorns would probably like to redshirt Heard while Ash, Swoopes and (possibly) Wittek fight to assume control. But Heard is good enough that he might not allow that to happen. It all depends on how quickly he is able to grasp the new system.
Now wouldn't this be interesting.
The USC transfer visited Texas in mid-February, which was said to exceed expectations and put the Longhorns in the drivers seat for his services.
He did recently take a trip to Hawaii (why would you turn that down?), and could visit Louisville at some point though. Both schools figure to present more of a straight path to playing time than Texas.
However, Wittek could end up in Austin because of the opportunity to play for a prestigious program kin to the one he'll leave after graduation, and has to feel confident he can come in and take the reigns under center. Wittek will have two seasons of eligibility remaining once he graduates from USC in May with a degree in Psychology.
The question is: what kind of quarterback would Texas be getting? The USC starting job was wide open at the beginning of the 2013-14 season and Wittek (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) got more than a fair chance at beating out Cody Kessler. But he simply couldn't match Kessler's productivity in the first three games of the season, and Kessler assumed full control in the fourth game.
Last season, in six games, Wittek completed 14-of-26 passes for 212 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns. Those numbers leave a lot to be desired.