Horns have congestion at QB

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas, which has missed on Heisman Trophy quarterbacks (the last two) and NFL quarterbacks of late (in Week 11 of the NFL season, nine starters were from the state of Texas yet none played at the University Texas), has decided to take another direction in an effort to refill its sails: stockpiling.

As of today Texas will have five scholarship quarterbacks on campus, a buffet of selections that are no doubt filling, but might leave those with discerning taste wanting for more. Nonetheless, there are choices. Now one, Case McCoy, is returning after being suspended before the Valero Alamo Bowl. And one, Tyrone Swoopes, is in his first day of school. Petty details aside, this is the first time in more than a decade Texas has had this many quarterbacks on campus. The last time was 2002. The difference then was that Chris Simms "wasn't threatened by anybody," said Chance Mock, who was one of the five in 2002.

These days the 40 Acres is like the set of "Homeland" -- threats and skittish behavior abound.

There is no starter, although David Ash finished the season strong, completing his last seven passes in a come-from-behind win over Oregon State.

The two redshirt freshmen -- Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet -- possess entirely different skill sets, the former being a pocket passer and the latter a runner with a quick release.

McCoy, a rising senior, pulled Texas out of the fire at Kansas and has performed well in spot duty.

Swoopes is an athlete with an arm who needs to learn. But he might be in an environment where the needs are so immediate that his growth could be stunted if only because the coaches do not have the time -- or enough practice balls given the four other guys -- to work with him.

>Oh yeah, and the Horns are heavily recruiting Nick Marshall, a junior college quarterback with a questionable past -- he was kicked off the team at Georgia -- who will not be able to throw a pass for Texas coaches until August.

Add to all that a coaching staff that for years has been largely inept in managing the quarterback situation and it makes for, well, a middling program.

"It's the complete opposite of when I was there," Mock said. "When I came to Texas there was a hierarchy that had been created. You were recruited and you knew you were going to redshirt, then sit and then play for two years.

"We all knew where we were and we were sticking to the plan."

The plan worked until Vince Young had to play. His talent was too profound. Then his jump to the NFL created a scramble. When that void was filled by another freshman, Colt McCoy, a pattern of plug-and-play started, which liquidated Texas' depth as well as stunted the growth of the alleged next great quarterback, Garrett Gilbert. (Gilbert had just 26 pass attempts as a freshman before he was inserted into the BCS title game.)

The recovery process, which quite possibly has spawned more ferocious debate than the other recovery process debated across the aisle, is moving into its third year. And while the picture does remain muddled -- most likely because no one can see through the forest of bodies at quarterback -- a glimmer of hope is now slicing through those timbers.

Ash showed dramatic improvement in Year 2. There were missteps ... huge missteps. But his growth allowed for the belief that he could adequately fill Texas' needs in 2013.

Additionally, Major Applewhite, himself a product of the most vicious quarterback battle in the Mack Brown era at Texas, is now the quarterbacks coach and playcaller. His past -- one that produced a division in the players, coaches and fan base during his depth-chart battle with Simms -- gives Applewhite a particular understanding of how uncertainty can undermine a team. Therefore, he is much more apt to select a quarterback and stick with that quarterback.

The issue then becomes which quarterbacks will stick with Texas. If Ash is selected as the starter for 2013, the odds are he will have a leg up in the 2014 competition. That leaves Brewer and Overstreet potentially waiting two more years just to get on the field. Now, one -- Overstreet most likely -- could be used in different packages. But quarterbacks want a team to lead, not a package of plays to learn.

Additionally, Texas quarterbacks don't want to wait around to play. The last time Texas had four quarterbacks, none of whom were redshirting in 2011, it lost two to transfers. So it is difficult to believe that Texas, through at least the next two seasons, will be able to keep five or more quarterbacks on its roster. But for now, that is what the Longhorns have. And for now the Longhorns have to figure out what they can do with those five.