Sam Ehlinger (Taylor Estes - HornsDigest.com)

What To Watch During Texas Longhorns Spring Football

HD's Taylor Estes gives her Top 6 storylines she is watching as Texas kicks of Spring Football under first-year head coach Tom Herman.

1. The Quarterback Race

Shane Buechele had a decent true freshman campaign, especially considering he played through a thumb injury in the latter part of the season. But the Texas Longhorns offense digressed a bit as the season progressed even with Buechele under center and the nation's top running back D'Onta Foreman leading the charge.

Every team needs a vocal leader, and in a lot of instances, coaches want to see that leadership from the quarterback. However, it can be tough for a true freshman to have a big voice on a team, especially when it comes from a QB. I will be interested to see how Buechele's vocal leadership at all improves or changes with him entering his second year being on campus.

I don't know if the quarterback job has been won or not. The public message has been everything is open for the taking, including QB. With Buechele, Sam Ehlinger, Matthew Merrick and an emergency Jerrod Heard option available, who will step up? 

I think it's safe to say Buechele has the edge as it stands due to his experience, but I would not count out Ehlinger. While we have not yet seen if his skills will transition to the college level, the one thing you can say about Ehlinger is he's a competitor.

If there's a slight opening, I have no doubt Ehlinger is going to fight for the spot and push Buechele even more. I expect Buechele to stand up and fight for his spot, so this could be a very interesting QB battle brewing if Ehlinger can match Buechele's athleticism and intelligence on the field.

2. Jerrod Heard's Role

This actually could be tied for the No. 1 spot, but I am very interested to see what type of role Jerrod Heard is going to play moving forward. It was clear Heard has made an impact during the first few months of Tom Herman being in Austin when the head coach posted this tweet featuring a solo Heard with the tag "Earn Your Horns."

https://twitter.com/CoachTomHerman/status/836942859559383040

I don't believe anything Herman does is coincidental, and when he posted this photo, it was evident Heard is turning heads. How he will be used is something I will watch very closely throughout spring ball.

3. Recruits Return Trip

Some of the top prospects in the state were singing high praises of Herman and Texas coming out of Junior Day weekend, with a number of prospects discussing a return visit during spring ball. What I want to see if how many of these guys follow through with the trip.

As I wrote in last week's HD Only, I felt the vibe from prospects was extremely favorable for the Longhorns when I spoke with guys after Junior Day. I do think Herman and his staff resonated very well with the recruits, and expect to see some more commitments in the coming months.

The guys who do make return trips to Austin will be something Texas fans may want to keep an eye on moving forward.

4. Holton Hill and Davante Davis Rebound

It's no secret Holton Hill and Davante Davis went through a bit of a slump in 2016. The duo entered the season with high hopes of making an impact as sophomores, only to follow it up with very lackluster performances and personal issues off-the-field.

Defensive backs coach Jason Washington mentioned the confidence of the duo potentially being a reason that led to the issues last season. Has anything changed? Who knows, but I'm thinking some answers may come throughout spring ball.

5. Staff's Thoughts at End of Spring

Everyone knows Charlie Strong signed an immense amount of talent in his 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes. Though the talent is young, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. At least, that's a standpoint many Texas fans, and reporters alike, believe to be true.

Herman and his staff have publicly addressed the level of talent on the roster, but will their opinions change in either direction come the end of Spring? 

If Herman and a few other coaches are being truthful when they say they did not want to watch film of the team to avoid any preconceived notions about who a player is, then I would imagine the opinions will be different. 

How much is unknown, but I'm interested to see what Herman thinks about this team's overall talent come April 15.

 


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