It is time for the Longhorns to find their Russell Wilson.
That situation closely mirrors that of the expected 2012 Longhorn lineup, with one potential exception. Texas has more young talent at the position in David Ash and Connor Brewer. But Ash was thrown in before he was ready and flamed out near season's end, with Case McCoy taking over the job. The last thing you want to do is try the same experiment next year and potentially wrecking Brewer's confidence.
And so the Longhorn quarterback options look like this: hope that McCoy or Ash matures enough to grab the job by the horns.
Here's my question: with a lineup that appears ready to make a run at double-digit wins and potentially a BCS bowl, why take that sort of risk? Why not shop for a one-year quarterback, somebody who could Duke it out with McCoy, allow for a redshirt of Brewer (and possibly even Ash), and give the two youngest quarterbacks an extra year to develop?
The critics of such a plan will point out that there isn't a Russell Wilson in this year's crop. And I would agree with that assessment. There probably isn't a one-year quarterback option out there who stands a great chance of immediately stepping in as one of college football's top signal callers.
But let's be honest: Texas doesn't need an elite quarterback to make that kind of season happen. Instead, the Longhorns simply need average to above average quarterback play from somebody who won't be limited, either in terms of implemented gameplan or in terms of physical attributes.
And for those measures, the Longhorns have two potential one-year quarterbacks to choose from. Both have starting experience at BCS schools. The most talented or best option would appear to be former top recruit Dayne Crist, a one-year Notre Dame transfer. Crist, a 6-foot-4. 235-pounder with a strong arm, passed for 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions over his career, including a 2010 season where he started for the Golden Domers. Texas would face plenty of competition for Crist, including Wisconsin and potentially Kansas, which hired Crist's former coach Charlie Weis on Thursday.
But an underrated option would be Ryan Katz. He passed for 2,722 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career at Oregon State, but lost his job earlier this season. Katz has the physical tools to succeed, as well as the experience you're looking for.
Why a one-year quarterback and not a two-year junior college transfer? Because the Longhorns don't need (or want) a longer term stress on the quarterback scholarship numbers. Five … that's a workable number. But having five in tow for 2013 could 1) force transfers and 2) scare away recruits like J.T. Barrett and Tyrone Swoopes.
No, the solution is simple: grab one of Crist and Katz. Have them fight it out with McCoy. Give Ash and Brewer time to develop. And then marvel as McCoy, Ash and Brewer — all more experienced — fight it out in 2013.