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Texas’ quarterback Sam Ehlinger was honored on senior day and has accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, according to their website.
That would seem to all but confirm the Longhorns’ last two games at Kansas State and Kansas will be the final regular season games for Ehlinger, but the senior quarterback remains mum on whether he will use the blanket waiver offered by the NCAA.
The first two data points should make it clear Ehlinger won’t be back for the 2021 season even if he won’t come out and say it himself, even though we don’t believe he returns.
If Ehlinger isn’t on the 2021 roster, that means Texas will need to determine a new starter no matter who occupies the head coach’s office in the new Moncrief Complex.
There are three quarterbacks currently on the roster; junior Casey Thompson, freshman Hudson Card, and freshman Ja’Quinden Jackson. Austin High senior Charles Wright will enroll early and join them in January.
“That room is very bright, and I appreciate all those young men,” Texas offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said Wednesday. “That’s not easy when you’re dealing with that much talent in the room to be great competitors, but more importantly be great teammates. To have that, I’m blessed.”
Whenever Texas returns to the Denius Fields for the program’s first spring practice since 2019, it will mark the beginning of a quarterback competition.
“I wish that when that does happen, I could be around for that competition because (they’re) three really, really good, talented quarterbacks,” Ehlinger said Tuesday.
Both Ehlinger and Yurcich offered their observations and opinions on Thompson, Card, and Jackson.
Ehlinger: “Obviously, Casey has the experience piece from being around here for a really long time. I’m very thankful for Casey and everything he’s done for me on a weekly basis, just helping me prepare during games, coming up to me and telling me what he’s seeing and helping me out. He’s been incredible the last few years and he’s a really talented player.”
Yurcich: “I see Casey as being one of those guys that is an expert at preparing. He’s really, really good at being in that film room and making sure that he’s assignment sound in everything. He prepares like the starter without being the starter, and that’s the hardest job in football to actually prepare with the sense of urgency that you are the guy and you’re a snap away from that. Some guys don’t have that urgency because maybe they’re into their feelings or they just feel defeated. They don’t have that ‘when I get my chance, I’m going to maximize that opportunity.’ Some guys are aware of how urgent that is, and some guys aren’t. We stress it, but it still is up to them at the end of the day. He has that. Not to say that Hudson or Ja’Quinden doesn’t, but he takes it to a different level. His conscientiousness, the feedback he gives to me, to Sam, is much appreciated. He’s a very heady kid. He’s a very thoughtful person. He’s got a great heart, very willing, and I can’t wait to see him execute when he gets his opportunity.”
Ehlinger: “Hudson’s the golden boy. He throws a beautiful ball. We always make fun of him. It’s like he came out of the womb throwing spirals and doing QB drills perfectly. He’s been awesome.”
Yurcich: “He’s still learning the game. He makes silly mistakes that are no-nos, and he’s getting better at that. He’ll also make plays that make you go ‘wow.’ He’s a special talent, there’s no question about it.”
Ehlinger: “JJ, he’s an incredible athlete. I think everybody knows that from what he’s done in high school. I feel like every week he continues to get better in the system and learn more.”
Yurcich: “Ja’Quinden’s got a very, very strong arm. He’s got to get that thing registered downtown, man. It’s a lethal weapon, baby. He can rip it now. He’s got a lot to learn. He hasn’t been at it as long as the other guys. It’s going to be a big offseason with myself, Hudson, and Ja’Quinden sitting down for more one-on-one film sessions, really cracking it open to see how they process and learn how they learn a little bit better so I can try to adapt to their learning styles. That’ll be very, very important.”
More Yurcich: “Ja’Quinden is doing a better job of transforming his body in the weight room. He’s got a lot of work to do there and he’s done a great job so far, but he can get a lot stronger. He’s got all the tools.”