Quinn Ewers, once committed to Texas, leaving Ohio State. Should Horns chase him again?
Ewers, the No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class, committed to Herman but backed out after social justice issues roiled campus
Quinn Ewers is the most high-profile quarterback in college football who still has never thrown a single college pass, much less a touchdown.
And yet, some Texas fans are convinced he’s the answer to the Longhorns’ prayers.
Ewers, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class, has put his name in the transfer portal after redshirting this season at Ohio State. Yahoo Sports reported that Ewers, a Southlake Carroll product who once was committed to the Longhorns, is considering Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech as potential landing spots.
Maybe Casey Thompson’s thumb just needs to heal while Texas recruits more offensive linemen. Maybe Hudson Card simply needs more practice repetitions. Maybe Maalik Murphy, a four-star Californian expected to sign later this month, will dazzle. Maybe 2023 prized recruit Arch Manning is still in play.
Maybe none of that is true. Recruiting, a calculated guessing game, can be a total crapshoot.
Maybe Ewers is the answer. Frankly, it’s difficult to predict anything when it comes to the bleach-blond, mullet-wearing quarterback. Multiple recruiting sites predict he will decide in about a week or so.
Ewers grew up wanting to be a Longhorn. He committed to then-UT coach Tom Herman on Aug. 14, 2020. “I wanted to find the right fit for me,” he told the American-Statesman at the time. “Texas was the right fit, so there was no need to wait. I can help start recruiting my peers to Texas.”
Then came the social justice summer of 2020, a controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas” school song and the team’s 3-2 start.
“I’m 100% committed,” Ewers told reporters in late October 2020, including one from the Statesman. “I have faith in the coaches to get it rolling. They’re still building. It’s only been five games under a new system.”
He even clapped back at those criticizing Herman. “The people tweeting about coach Herman don’t play the game,” Ewers said then. “They don’t know what is going on inside the field house. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective.”
Six days after that interview, Ewers flipped his commitment to Ohio State. His family, which already had its sights set on future name, image and likeness opportunities, did not like how things were unfolding on the UT campus regarding social justice issues, a source familiar with Ewers’ recruitment said Saturday.
Ewers went from “100% committed” to Texas to flipping to Ohio State in less than a week.
“The more I’ve considered, the more I’ve come to realize I didn’t explore all options as thoroughly as I would have liked,” Ewers posted on Twitter to announce his decision. “Therefore, I’ve decided to decommit and reassess the situation before making such an important decision on my future.”
Some inside the Texas program remain convinced that losing Ewers — along with missing on the Brockermeyer twins, two UT legacy offensive line recruits, to Alabama — was a death blow for Herman with administrators and influential donors. UT athletic director Chris Del Conte has steadfastly refused to go into detail about the school’s decision to fire Herman on Jan. 2.
Ewers led Southlake Carroll to the Class 6A Division I state semifinals as a sophomore in 2019. He threw for 4,003 yards and 45 touchdowns that season. His junior season was curtailed by a sports hernia injury suffered in late October 2020. He had the surgery, but Ewers returned to throw three touchdowns against Arlington Martin in a playoff win just before Christmas.
“Being back just feels amazing, and it feels so good to be back on this field with pads, and a helmet and a football in my hand,” Ewers told The Dallas Morning News afterward.
The first half of 2021 was full of NCAA and state legislative changes regarding name, image and likeness. The NCAA ruled that college athletes could profit off autographs and personal appearances. But the state of Texas was one of three states that prohibited high school athletes from profiting through NIL.
Ewers and his family decided to reclassify the quarterback and enroll early at Ohio State, prompting him to miss his senior season at Carroll. So instead of leading the Dragons, Ewers was in Columbus as a fourth-stringer with the Buckeyes.
It was a lucrative decision, for sure. Ewers signed an NIL deal with Holy Kombucha, a beverage company in Dallas, along with a car dealership in Columbus. In late August, Ewers reportedly signed a $1.4 million agreement with GT Sports Marketing for autographs, presumably in anticipation of becoming the Ohio State starter.
The only problem was Ohio State already had a full quarterbacks room. C.J. Stroud became the Big Ten’s offensive player, quarterback and freshman of the year — the first athlete to ever sweep all three major league awards.
Ewers didn’t even make the travel squad until October. Coach Ryan Day said it would be “a little while” before Ewers was ready for significant playing time, according to the Columbus Dispatch. In Day’s mind, Ewers was a 2022 possibility.
Again, it’s worth repeating, Ewers should have been a high school senior this fall, not facing down 21-year-old Big Ten defenders.
It’s easy to see why Ewers would get restless behind Stroud. He's leaving Columbus after spending just four-plus months in Ohio. NCAA rules allow for one penalty-free transfer during an athlete’s career. Ewers is already ready to move.
Would Texas coach Steve Sarkisian even want Ewers? Coaches are prohibited from talking about athletes being recruited until they sign, per NCAA rules.
Before the regular season finale against Kansas State, Sarkisian said of the quarterback position, “I think that we have to open that job up.” He took another step further and said, “We’re going to tear this thing all the way down” and start back at square one.
Thompson sure got the message. “I mean, I heard what he said. A lot of people sent it to me,” he said after the Kansas State game.
It should be noted that quarterback rankings aren’t perfect. Texas signed Jevan Snead in 2006, the nation's No. 2 quarterback prospect behind only Tim Tebow that year. Colt McCoy, a three-star recruit signed in 2005, became a superstar in burnt orange.
Sarkisian has no slam-dunk options here. Go all in on Ewers or stand pat? Stick with Thompson, Card and Murphy going forward and keep chasing Manning?
Would Texas fans be understanding if Sarkisian stuck to his plan and recruited his own players? In many ways, Ewers is the Ryan Perrilloux story all over again. Fans were more fascinated with the player who spurned Texas in 2005 than the one who committed and signed.
As Ewers himself said in 2020, “Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at it from a different perspective.”
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