The arranged marriage of Shane Buechele and Sterlin Gilbert started with a breakfast last month.
On the same weekend Gilbert agreed to become Texas' new offensive coordinator, Buechele was in Austin, Texas, on his official visit. The Longhorns' quarterback commit was relieved to hear his future coach had finally been found. But he didn’t know the guy.
"I was a little impatient about what was going on with all the coaching stuff," Buechele admitted.
One morning meeting with Gilbert put him at ease. There aren’t many who know where exactly Texas is heading with its offensive renovation. Buechele does.
"He came and sat down next to me and we talked about what we’re going to be doing," Buechele said. "He told me some things. He said I’m going to like what he’s running."
The pairing of Gilbert, formerly Tulsa's co-offensive coordinator, and Buechele, an ESPN 300 standout from Arlington Lamar and the top-rated quarterback recruit in Texas, could go a long way toward determining the Longhorns' fate in 2016. Buechele arrives on campus and officially enters Texas' quarterback derby on Friday, and he likes his chances.
When it comes time to start teaching the new scheme, Jerrod Heard, Tyrone Swoopes and Kai Locksley all have just as much to learn as the rookie does. A new coach means a brand-new outlook for each passer.
"I guess I am pretty excited going in and having the same slate as the other guys," Buechele said.
Buechele has done his research. He picked the brain of Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans and his dad, Damon Evans, who happens to coach at Arlington Lamar. He found Tulsa games on YouTube and watched closely to get a better sense of tendencies and route combinations.
"From what I’ve seen when I look up stuff, he does a lot of RPO [run-pass option] stuff. We did a lot of that at my high school," Buechele said. "It’s pretty similar. The tempo is the big thing. We’re gonna be going fast."
And Buechele is confident he can fit comfortably into that plan. Confident enough, at least, that he said no thank you when Ohio State, Notre Dame and Missouri all tried to pursue him last month. He committed to play for Shawn Watson -- who saw Colt McCoy traits and a real "it" factor in Buechele’s game -- but he never doubted his pledge during the coordinator change.
Even committing to Texas in the first place required confidence, since Buechele is betraying his family’s longtime love of the rival Oklahoma Sooners. He is outnumbered 4-1 by his siblings on this front.
"I’m definitely going against the rules," he said. "When I committed, they were asking if I was for real."
Merry Christmas from the Buechele fam🎄🎄 pic.twitter.com/LQwDoh2rGA— Shane Buechele (@BGShaneBuechele) December 25, 2015
Folks were saying the same thing at the Elite 11 finals in Oregon this summer. Buechele never matched guys like Shea Patterson, Jacob Eason and K.J. Costello when it came to hype, but he came close to beating all of them for MVP honors.
Still, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound passer can’t help but feel like he has flown under the national radar compared to his more popular peers.
"I don’t go to as many things as those guys," Buechele said. "I didn’t play on national TV this year like they did. I didn’t go to any of the All-American games. But that doesn’t matter when you get to college. It’s what you do in college, not what you did in high school.
"I wish I had a little more hype to my name, but that’s all fun. That has nothing to do with how you compete on the field. I know what I can do."
Buechele did hear that McCoy comparison an awful lot during his high school days. Same size. Same mentality. Same results? As he steps into Texas’ quarterback battle, that’s the goal.
"He’s a competitor. He’s a fighter. He helped make Texas one of the top programs in the nation," Buechele said. "Hopefully I can be like that and lead this program to something big."