Texas Longhorns Spring Practice Preview: Is the QB of the Future on Campus?

SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW: The HornsDigest staff gives their thoughts on the Longhorns quarterback position and if the QB of the future is currently on campus.

It's all anyone can talk about: Who is going to be Texas' quarterback in the new Sterlin Gilbert offense? The HD staff weighs in:


The ideal quarterback in the Sterlin Gilbert G-Force offense is a quick thinker who can read the number of defensive players in the box quickly so he can decide if he's pulling the ball from the stomach of his running back to throw it or handing it to his RB to run against a "light" or 5- or 6-man box.

The ideal QB in the G-Force offense can make quick, accurate throws. More than 60 percent of the throws in this offense are 8 yards or less. Hitting fast WRs in-stride and on-time is essential.

If the QB also happens to be an effective runner, you've hit the trifecta. That's what Art Briles had in RGIII, and he won the Heisman Trophy.

So who does Texas have among Shane Buechele, Jerrod Heard, Kai Locksley, Matthew Merrick and Tyrone Swoopes right now who fits that description? Or will Texas have to eyeball a JUCO or grad transfer and keep him warm in case none of these QBs excel?

I think Locksley is the QB with the best measurables - 6-4, 215 pounds and can run like a receiver.

Heard may be the most elusive runner. Buechele and Merrick are probably the most accurate passers, and Swoopes obviously the most experienced.

But it will eventually come down to who is able to make the right decision quickly on a consistent basis, and that we simply won't know until the coaches see these guys making decisions in live action.

Eventually, I think it's either Buechele, Merrick or Locksley who emerges as the starter, because I think they are the ones most likely to approach the QB position as a job. And at Texas, that's what the QB position is - a job.

It could very well end up that Buechele wins the job, because accuracy is such a premium. Remember, RGIII set the Division I record for most passes without an interception to start a career as a freshman at Baylor.

I just keep seeing Buechele holding that trophy at the Elite 11 camp for being the most accurate passer. And something tells me it's going to be him. Maybe not against Notre Dame ... or maybe so.



© Greg Powers


Did Someone Say QB of the Future?

Tyrone Swoopes

Jerrod Heard

Kai Locksley

Matthew Merrick

Shane Buechele

The million-dollar question regarding Texas football seems to be who will be the quarterback of the future.  

The only two players on the roster with any experience at all are Swoopes and Heard.  Locksley, Merrick and Buechele have never seen the field.  None of the five signal callers have any game experience running the Sterlin Gilbert offense – jury is still out on what the offense will be.  It could be this year’s offense is not exactly what he wants if he doesn’t have the right guy to pull the trigger.  I don’t believe those questions will be answered until after spring ball is over. 

Buechele and Merrick are the two players I look at and say those guys are quarterbacks. Heard and Locksley are exceptional athlete’s who played quarterback at the high school level. Swoopes is a guy who also played quarterback in high school, but I don’t honestly believe he is a pure signal caller. I view him as more of an athlete playing the quarterback position.

Could we see either Heard or Locksley pull the Braxton Miller transition to another position moving forward? Only time will provide those answers, and a little bit of spring ball won’t hurt either. I do not believe you will see a quarterback named coming out of spring ball. I think it will be kept close to the vest until summer to drive and push these five players as much as humanly possible.

They each bring different things to the table.  I am a big believer in naming “one” guy and having that one guy run the system and be the leader of the offense and the team.  However, with this group, I am not opposed to seeing multiple players put in the position to execute their strengths from the quarterback position.  I understand this is not an ideal situation and if one guy shows he can do it all then so be it.  It’s hard for me to imagine you will hear anything other than Swoopes and Heard are ahead of the group, and the other three all did good things and showed a certain level of skill set.  



Getty Images


For the first time in quite a while, Texas has something working to its advantage when it comes to the quarterback position: Depth.

The Longhorns enter spring practice with five QBs on the roster: Shane Buechele, Jerrod Heard, Kai Locksley, Matthew Merrick and Tyrone Swoopes. 

With new coaches in place and a new offensive scheme to teach, there is no doubt in my mind that the position is entirely up for grabs for anyone in the QB room. 

Sterlin Gilbert’s offense will require a quick-thinking, accurate quarterback and I believe there are three guys who will fit in that role: Buechele, Heard and Merrick. 

A lot of hype surrounds Shane Buechele after seeing his high school play and watching him win the most accurate passer award at The Opening last summer. There’s no doubt he holds all of the characteristics to be the long-term answer for Texas, but it may not be something that will immediately be seen since he has yet to play a college snap.

After an okay redshirt freshman season, critics have, and will likely continue to speculate if Heard is the solution to the Longhorns QB woes. Sure, he had low games, shaky performances and battled a few injuries, but nobody can deny the fact that Heard showed flashes of ability that gave Texas fans hope for the future during his first season playing at the college level. 

Heard has the talent and characteristics to fit in Gilbert’s offense, but it will only happen if his head is in the game. Texas needs a leader at QB and Heard is capable of being that leader. However, without seeing it on a consistent basis, it’s impossible to be 100 percent confident in his leadership skills. 

A lot of people consider the QB position a two-man battle between Heard and Buechele, but I believe Merrick is a dark horse candidate.

Many people have overlooked and dismissed Merrick for the sheer fact that he was not a highly touted prospect. But in talking to sources close to the program, Merrick turned some heads during winter workouts. He’s diligent, focused and has the drive to fight for the starting role.

At the end of the day, I do not believe a starter will be named at the commencement of spring practice. In fact, I’m not sure a starter will be named until midway through fall camp. 

But spring will be a good time to evaluate the talent at the position and who could become the best fit in Gilbert’s offense.

While it’s too early for me to definitively claim who will prevail, I feel comfortable in saying Buechele, Heard and Merrick all have a decent chance at securing the starting job.


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