Position Preview: Quarterbacks

With Vince Young and Matt Nordgren gone, not a single pass attempt remains on the Texas roster from last season's championship team. So, will the Longhorn offense struggle with a freshman signal-caller? We start off our position previews with the biggest question mark on the UT team, the spot that apparently convinced the pundits that Texas is no longer a title contender: quarterback.

Players competing for the position:

Sherrod Harris, 6-3, 212, Fr
Colt McCoy, 6-3, 195, Fr-RS
Jevan Snead, 6-3, 215, Fr

On January 8th, 2006 Vince Young declared for the NFL Draft and the spotlight was again shown directly on the quarterback position; this time on three inexperienced freshmen rather than on the exploits of the most outstanding player in college football.

With redshirt freshman McCoy already on campus and Snead an early enrollee at Texas, the UT coaches had just two scholarship quarterbacks during February and March, and 15 days of practice to get 'em ready for the fall. Although McCoy got the start in the Spring Game, both signal caller have taken snaps with the first-team offense, but heading into two-a-days, neither QB earned enough separation to be considered the sure-fire when North Texas comes calling on Sept. 2.

Mack Brown doesn't necessarily view that as a negative.

"They've both worked with that (first team) huddle and they've both worked with that center," said Brown, "so they're not uncomfortable by being in that setting."

They shouldn't get too comfortable, though, because joining the fray in August will be Harris, Arlington Bowie's all-time leading passer with 4,321 yards in three seasons. Harris threw for 1,883 yards and 11 TDs during his final season while adding 413 yards and six TDs on the ground, despite missing five games.

Interestingly, Harris actively petitioned Snead to renounce his decision for Florida and sign instead with Texas.

"I was hyped," Harris said of Snead's decision. "I was glad to have him with me. I wanted to have the two best freshman quarterbacks in the nation going at the same time."

The Horns may indeed have that, with Harris a potential dual-threat (perhaps not in the Vince Young-mold, but who is?), Snead an athletic flame-throwes and McCoy one of the most prolific passers in Texas high school football history.

Snead passed for 7,966 yards and 100 TDs during his final two seasons, posting a 23-2 record as a starter. He averaged 318.2 ypg during that stretch on the way to Parade All-American honors. He is now listed at 6-3, 215 pounds and says he's a little faster than folks realize (he's been clocked at a 4.62).

McCoy was a two-time Associated Press 2A Offensive MVP and first-team all-state selection in guiding Tuscola Jim Ned to a 34-2 record during three years at QB. His 9,344 yards on 536-of-849 passing (63.1 percent), including 116 TDs, makes him the all-time leading passer in Texas 2A history and fourth overall in Texas high school history.

In recent history, Texas has relied on freshmen quarterbacks with Young (2003), Major Applewhite (1998) and Peter Gardere (1989), with varying levels of success, but this year's crop of freshmen will have the benefit of an experienced core of veteran wideouts, a proven running game and one of the nation's top offensive lines (not to mention a defense that should keep scoreboard totals low for opponents). So which youngun' will be given the keys and told to just not to wreck it?

Basically it comes down to this:

McCoy has more experience, but not by much. Snead has the strongest arm, but not by much. Harris is the fastest, but not by much.

The Texas coaching staff has shown a history of playing the bigger talent early, which could give the advantage to Snead. But, it's clear that the job of the quarterback this fall will be to simply get the ball to the weapons and not be the star, which could give the advantage to McCoy because of his experience in the offense. But, the staple play of the Texas offense under Young was the zone-read and the player most equipped to run the zone-read is Harris... oi!

Based on what I've been told by players and coaches about his potential, my prediction is that Snead will (eventually) end up the starter, but it will likely come down to whoever does the best job of protecting the football. And it's highly likely that both McCoy and Snead will be given that opportunity early and often.

Inside Texas Position Preview Schedule:

Monday, July 24: QBs
Tuesday, July 25: RBs
Wednesday, July 26: WRs
Thursday, July 27: TEs
Friday: July 28: OLs

Monday, July 31: DEs
Tuesday, Aug. 1: DTs
Wednesday, Aug. 2: LBs
Thursday, Aug. 3: DBs
Friday, Aug. 4: Special Teams

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