<
>
Insider

Bryan Harsin gets his man in Jerrod Heard

8/15/2012

Denton (Texas) Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard had more than 540 days to decide where he’d play quarterback in college.

Bryan Harsin sure made that easy on him.

When Heard became the Longhorns’ fifth pledge for its 2014 recruiting class on Tuesday, the commitment signaled a swift and impressive victory for Texas’ second-year offensive coordinator.

That the Longhorns beat LSU, Ohio State, Arizona, Nebraska and a handful of other programs for the touted quarterback’s pledge this early in the process has an awful lot to do with Harsin’s focus and persistence.

By the time Heard stepped on Texas’ campus for its April 1 spring game, he already had an unmistakable target on his back.

You don’t find many high school sophomore quarterbacks who are praised for their polish. But Heard’s combination of versatility and pedigree made him a no-brainer target for Texas’ recruiting board.

And once Heard rose to the top of that board, Harsin locked in.

Heard and Denton Guyer coach John Walsh have known all summer that he was the signal-caller Harsin coveted most. He made that abundantly clear when Heard camped at Texas in June.

Harsin paired up Heard with 2013 commit Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright,Texas/Whitewright) and coached them individually, drilling the duo on all the minutia of quarterbacking.

He put Heard to the test. The kid passed.

His scholarship offer came in August, far earlier than he’d ever expected. Now Heard is a Longhorn.

For two more years, though, he’s a Guyer Wildcat. A long time still has to pass before the dividends of this pledge are realized. But, at least for now, two things are fairly certain.

First, consider this: At Boise State, Harsin enjoyed unparalleled success with a traditional, steady pocket passer named Kellen Moore.

Together, they won 38 games and lost only two.

Since taking over in Austin, Harsin has handpicked three quarterbacks:

Jalen Overstreet, Tyrone Swoopes and Heard.

Though their skill levels and polish vary, all three are dual-threat quarterbacks who can make an impact in the run game and expand any offensive scheme.

That’s naturally a boom-or-bust proposition. But it sends a message about the philosophy Harsin hopes to install as offensive coordinator.

His time on the blue turf might have influenced his play calling, but Harsin is now working on a very different blueprint.

A verbal pledge from Heard also ensures this: Security.

Sure, his commitment is only as good as his word and won’t be official until February of 2014.

But Case McCoy has two seasons left, David Ash has three and Connor Brewer and Overstreet could each be on campus for the next five years. Then there’s Swoopes, another quarterback who will likely take the five-year plan and redshirt.

If Heard does indeed sign with and shine at Texas, the Longhorns could very well be set at the quarterback position until 2019.

A lot can and will change between now and then. Quarterbacks relegated to the bench usually transfer.

Don’t forget, though, that only seven months have passed since Texas was teetering on the brink of desperation and pondering whether the solution was junior college transfer Bo Wallace.

Mack Brown and Harsin still don't know which quarterback to pick for 2012. But beyond this fall, they now have plenty of options.