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The Dotted Line: Sarkisian inherits talented quarterback room; 2022 targets

Texas hired Steve Sarkisian because of his ability to score points. As Alabama's offensive coordinator, he led the Crimson Tide to the national championship, sending three of his offensive players to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

At Texas, Sarkisian will keep calling plays. He’ll need a great relationship with his quarterback — whoever it is. Sam Ehlinger is readying for the NFL draft as Sarkisian  takes stock of his roster. 

Former coach Tom Herman also arrived in Austin as a perceived offensive guru. His tenure was a disappointment on the field, but his staff brought in a few talented quarterbacks. Sarkisian’s job is to maximize the existing potential while simultaneously adding an elite signal-caller in the 2022 class. 

On campus

Casey Thompson (class of 2018)

FYI: Four stars, from Newcastle, Okla.; ranked 291st nationally, No. 14 dual-threat QB

Thompson was an early enrollee in the 2018 class that ranked third in the country. He was the Longhorns' second-highest ranked quarterback signee that year, at least on paper. California's Cameron Rising was a highly-ranked four-star prospect who eventually transferred to Utah.

Thompson has played second fiddle to Ehlinger over the last two seasons, but he received a chance to impress in the second half of the Alamo Bowl. He took full advantage of the opportunity, completing 8 of 10 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Thompson, who's the all-time passing leader in Oklahoma high school history, will still be a sophomore heading into the 2021 season. He’s played in seven games. 

Hudson Card (2020)

FYI: Four stars, from Lake Travis; 59th nationally, No. 2 dual-threat QB

Card was anointed as Ehlinger's eventual replacement as a recruit. He’s already outlasted fellow 2020 signee Ja’Quinden Jackson, who transferred to Utah following the 2020 season. Card was the highest-rated quarterback Texas signed under Herman. The 6-2, 193-pound freshman played in two games this season, making his college debut in the opener against UTEP and attempting two passes in the bowl game. 

Card enjoyed a successful career at Lake Travis. He started at wide receiver as a sophomore before moving to quarterback, where he led the Cavaliers to the state semifinals as a junior and a senior. His junior year, Card passed for 3,543 yards and 50 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He added 619 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He missed six games as a senior because of a foot injury. He’s in a two-man race with Thompson for the starting job. 

Charles Wright (2021)

FYI: Three stars, from Austin High; No. 885 nationally, No. 32 pro-style QB

Wright's life-long dream of playing football at nearby Texas was realized in December. He’ll enroll when the semester starts as the third quarterback behind Thompson and Card. Texas won’t need him to win the job as a freshman.

Wright is an accurate quarterback with a strong arm. He’s thrown for more than 2,500 yards in each of the past two seasons, with 53 touchdowns. He led Austin High to the playoffs as a senior.

2022 targets

Quinn Ewers, Southlake  Carroll

FYI: 6-3, 195; five stars; No. 1-ranked overall recruit

Offers: Committed to Ohio State

Ewers’ decommitment from Texas, and eventual flip to Ohio State, was one of the reasons Herman was replaced. His presence will loom over Texas' 2022 class if Sarkisian can’t convince him to rethink the decision. Ewers did grow up a Longhorns fan from a UT family. Still, it’ll take a tremendous amount of work by the new staff, and a lot of success during the season, to get him to reconsider his move to Columbus. Until Texas can prove itself on a national level, the best players will continue to roam outside of the borders.

Maalik Murphy, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra

FYI: 6-4, 225; five stars; No. 2-ranked pro-style QB

Offers: 26

Herman signed a California quarterback in 2018, but Rising never made an impact on the Texas roster. Texans take pride in the amount of football talent their state produces, and the high school coaches don’t take too kindly to a new head coach at a power program inside the state searching elsewhere for prospects. That said, Sarkisian’s job is to win, and if he feels like Murphy is the best candidate to run his offense, he’ll find forgiveness in success. Murphy held an Alabama offer and Sarkisian was his main recruiter before the move. 

Cade Klubnik, Austin Westlake

FYI: 6-2, 178; four stars; No. 6-ranked pro-style QB

Offers: 27

Klubnik capped a strong junior season with a Class 6A Division I state championship over Southlake Carroll and Ewers last weekend. Klubnik completed 18 of 20 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown in the win. He added 97 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He had emerged as Texas' top quarterback target after Ewers' decommitment. 

Conner Weigman, Houston Cypress Bridgeland

FYI: 6-1, 205; four stars; No. 5-ranked dual-threat QB

Offers: 19

Weigman is an intriguing prospect. He’s an excellent quarterback and a top-rated baseball product as an infielder. He wants to play both sports in college, and Texas’ baseball team is an intriguing option. Weigman held an offer from the old staff, but he wasn’t offered by Sarkisian when Sarkisian was at Alabama.