- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Texas is getting off to a later-than-usual start to its spring practices this year, with Charlie Strong set to lead the Longhorns onto the practice field for the first time on March 18.
Until then, we’re counting down everything you need to know entering next season and the next era of Texas football. This week, we’re breaking down the five position groups with the most room to improve in 2014. We’ve already broken down the tight ends, defensive tackles, safeties and offensive line. Here’s No. 1 on the list.
Last year: You know the story. Ash suffered a concussion in the second game of 2013, played the first half against Kansas State and then was done for the season. Case McCoy led a six-game win streak and had Texas on the brink of a Big 12 title. Swoopes’ redshirt was burned midway through the season and he appeared in six games. Holtz, a walk-on, has never played.
What’s missing: Is there an addition on the way? Strong has acknowledged he would like to add a fourth quarterback to this group, and former USC starter Max Wittek will reportedly visit Texas this month. There have also been initial talks with former Houston QB Bram Kohlhausen about walking on. Texas is in need of another arm and another option after Connor Brewer transferred and Jalen Overstreet moved to tailback a year ago.
Another missing piece here: Heard was unable to enroll early. That leaves Texas with just Ash and Swoopes to learn the system and lead the offense in spring ball. Heard will arrive in May and get right to work, but that late start could make a redshirt more preferable.
Moving forward: Ash is the clear frontrunner to take back his starting job, and getting him fully cleared both for offseason workouts and spring ball is a huge step forward. Getting to work with quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson should be beneficial, but remember, this is Ash’s third quarterback coach in three seasons. He needs to get back to where he once was, and then he needs to get better.
Getting Swoopes a ton of reps is spring ball should be a very good thing for his development. He needs to make real progress in the next few months, because he’s one big Ash hit away from being the starting quarterback in 2014.