BEVO BEAT

Horns must add QB depth in ’15 class

Posted July 18th, 2013

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With the transfer of backup Connor Brewer, the Longhorns should be even more interested in how the quarterbacks in the 2015 class mature over their last two seasons of high school.

As it stands today, Texas could be entering the 2014 season with just senior David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and freshman Jerrod Heard on the roster. The coaches could scrap the planned position change for 2012 quarterback signee Jalen Overstreet, but barring anything unforeseen, the 2015 depth chart sets up thin with just Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard.

While an off-the-radar quarterback may pop up in this cycle before February and make two in 2014, today we’ll look at which juniors Texas will be watching this fall that could add depth at the position – and possibly win the starting job – down the road.

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Ricky Town (Ventura (Ca.)/St. Bonaventure): The West Coast pocket passer is ranked No. 3 in the country by 247Sports and 42nd by ESPN. He picked up an offer from the Longhorns when he visited Texas in mid-June, and he’s said to have grown up a fan of UT.

However, Town holds scholarship offers from schools like Alabama, Florida State, UCLA and plenty others along with UT. So while Texas may have an in with the blue-chip signal caller, it won’t be easy to beat out the other elite programs.

Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville):  The athletic junior who’s thrown just three varsity passes is already getting serious looks from a number of elite BCS schools. Rivals has the 6-foot-2, 188-pound dual-threat QB listed as the state’s 37th overall player; 247Sports lists him at No. 9, and No. 64 nationally.

Though Stidham is playing his high school football in the Lone Star State, he’s originally from Kentucky. He’s expressed some interest in Texas, but as he said during the 7-on-7 state tournament, “if someone’s interested in me, I’m interested in them.”

The Longhorns like the relatively untested Stidham, but his recruitment, like Town’s, will involve a number of blue-blood programs from across the country. Without a true tie to the state, this one is far from a slam dunk for the Burnt Orange.

Kyler Murray (Allen): With a rating of .9759 in the 247 composite rankings, Murray is the highest rated of the dual-threat QBs holding a Texas offer. However, it looks like it will be a very, very tough chore for Texas to overtake A&M as the leader for the 5A Division I state champion.

JW Ketchum (Missouri City/Fort Bend Marhsall):  Ketchum’s future position is anyone’s guess, but he’s still regarded as a dangerous athlete. Rivals lists the 6-foot-1, 190-pound dual-threat QB No. 22 in the state after a successful sophomore season in which he lead Fort Bend Marshall to a quarterfinal appearance in the 4A Division II tournament.

There’s no doubt Ketchum has interest in Texas. The only question is where he’ll line up on Saturdays. But if the Longhorns are looking for depth, adding a versatile athlete like Ketchum seems like a smart move.

Chason Virgil (Mesquite/West Mesquite): Opinions are varied on this dual-threat quarterback. He’s a consensus four-star recruit, but the ranking services can’t quite agree where he falls: ESPN ranks him 76th overall, 247Sports has him 213th.

He’ll need to add size and improve as a passer for him to blossom into a BCS-level quarterback, but he’s a guy with a lot of potential.

Virgil says his recruitment is “going slow right now” as he prepares for his junior season. If the Longhorns get serious with the 6-foot, 162-pounder he appears to be the most likely of the top group to eventually sign with UT.

The top quarterback take in the 2015 class is likely among the five already listed – the only five who have received a UT offer so far. However, given the need for depth at quarterback after David Ash graduates, Texas is going to have to take two players in either the 2014 or ’15 classes, if not both.

Another name to know is Nathan Elliott of Celina. The unrated dual-threat QB has made no secrets that he’s a big Longhorn fan, but contact has slowed between the two parties since the departure of Bryan Harsin. The Horns could get back into the mix, but they’d likely have to convince him to come to Austin as a backup instead of having a shot at starting somewhere else.

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