Three-way race needs leadership

AUSTIN, Texas -- The curtain is set to rise on Texas' spring practice, and standing center stage will be David Ash, Case McCoy and Connor Brewer.

The question floating around all three of them is if any will be taking a bow when this spring is over? Or will any exit stage left by the time next season begins? After all, rare these days is the season Texas does not have at least one quarterback transfer. And now with three QBs on the roster, plus Jalen Overstreet set to join in the fall and the commitment of Tyrone Swoopes, suddenly the spot under center is packed.

But for now, three is a crowd when it comes to the quarterback race. Undoubtedly it will be up to co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin to thin that herd this spring.

Whether or not Texas decides to make that decision public, the team needs to know and understand who its leader is this summer. Last year the picture was muddled all spring, summer and fall. As a result the offense was muddled during the season.

If a quarterback is not chosen, that too should be interpreted as a strong signal. That signal would be that the staff needs more time to evaluate Brewer.

Texas pretty much knows where it stands with Ash and McCoy. There is just not going to be that much dramatic improvement with either. They are what they are -- possibly serviceable quarterbacks when not put in stressful situations and handed an overwhelmingly simple game plan that requires no touch on deep passes.

Texas can win with those two. But the wins might top out at nine, 10 or possibly, if all the stars are aligned and Madam Hipple blesses the team from the beyond, even 11 games. That is not good enough for a fan base that wants to thump its chest and be talked about as a nationally elite program.

Being a part of the elite again is not something that is going to happen with one good spring practice season. In fact, it is only a small part of getting Texas beyond its eight wins in 2011. Those practices can't make them entirely ready or eliminate all deficiencies.

What is crucial this spring is a solid foundation. Texas has to stop making the quarterback position an itinerant one. That doesn't necessarily mean Texas has to pick a guy this spring and stick with him ad infinitum.

But it would serve Texas well to start laying the groundwork for 2013. That is the year the staff is pointing to as Texas' possible reemergence on the national scene and into the BCS picture. Texas can resurface among the top teams only if it has more than adequate quarterback play.

It stands to reason, if Texas goes through 2012 once again questioning who the right person is for the quarterback job, then it once again will be in the same predicament it now finds itself mired in during the spring of 2013. To avoid that, this spring Texas needs to critically evaluate not only who will serve as quarterback in 2012, but who it should invest in so that the program is best served in the future.

That might seem like a Herculean task, but it is what must be done if Texas wants to avoid continuing its misadventures.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation

Follow HornsNation's coverage on Twitter: