Quinn Ewers named to Texas as starting QB: Why he was the only choice to lead the Longhorns announced redshirt freshman

There are Friday news dumps, and then there’s Texas announcing, via a sports information director during player interviews, no less, that Ohio State transfer and former No. 1 overall recruit Quinn Ewers will enter the 2022 season as the starting quarterback. But while the timing of the message was unexpected, the decision is anything but. In fact, it was the only choice second-year coach Steve Sarkisian could make.

Ewers served what was effectively a one-year apprenticeship with the Buckeyes after enrolling a year early from Southlake Carroll High School to take advantage of the name, image and likeness opportunities. Ultimately, though, the former five-star prospect opted for a fresh start with the Longhorns as they try to bounce back from an embarrassing 5-7 season.

Since Ewers’ commitment, the Longhorns’ offseason hype has faded. Texas received an anonymous first-place vote in the preseason coaches poll and landed another No. 1 quarterback — Arch Manning — in June. The Longhorns also ranked in the top five recruiting and transfer classes in the 2022 cycle and sit second in the 2023 rankings with three five-stars already on board. Ewers even ranks in the top 10 Heisman odds at Caesars SportsBook.

To follow that kind of offseason by announcing the 2021 Week 1 starting Hudson Card as QB1 would have been a wet blanket for high expectations. Card threw for 224 yards against Louisiana, but lost his job after a miserable 61-yard outing against Arkansas the following week. After his two starts, Card completed just 29 of 47 passes for 305 yards in five appearances.

Of course, Ewers is more of a lottery ticket than a sure thing. Has not thrown a pass since the 2020 Class 6A Division I state championship game for Southlake Carroll. However, his skill set gives Texas more offensive advantages in a critical 2022 campaign.

“[Ewers is an] Elite makeshift quarterback who can extend plays and maintain accuracy on the move,” 247Sports Midlands Region recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks wrote of Ewers. “He feels the pressure and knows how to react to it . He’s also willing to stand up and deliver under duress and will take a big shot if it means hanging in there to make the necessary pitch. He’ll take risks from time to time, but that’s also part of what makes him so good.”

Card struggled mightily under pressure, completing just 38.5 percent of his passes and earning a 29.1-of-100 passer grade from Pro Football Focus in those situations. His effectiveness also broke down during play-action sequences, a staple of Sarkisian’s offense. Unfortunately, that weakness could be a critical flaw as Texas works through what could be debilitating offensive line issues in 2022.

First baseman Derek Kerstetter graduated, along with longtime contributors Denzel Okafor and Tope Imade. Best returner Junior Angilau suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first game of preseason camp. Center Jake Majors had a solid first year as the starter, but the only other key returner is Christian Jones, who led the team in pressures and sacks allowed by a wide margin. As many as three true freshmen could start against No. 1 Alabama in Week 2.

Of course, no one expects the Longhorns to handle the pressure of stars like Will Anderson and Dallas Turner early in the year, let alone compete with one of the most loaded Alabama teams of all time. However, struggling to handle pressure will be a fatal flaw for a quarterback in this offense. Texas needs a game-changing playmaker under center. Ewers is much more prepared to be that player than Card.

Ewers is just the second quarterback in the 247Sports recruiting era to earn a perfect 1.0000 rating in the Composite rankings. The last? Vince Young.

If things go well in Austin, Ewers has two years to make an indelible impact on the Texas record books. There might be some growing pains in Year 1, but Sarkisian had no choice but to bend to almost unprecedented expectations for the new Golden Boy of the 40 Acres.

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