Steve Sarkisian biggest task upon taking over at Texas will be fining a new starting quarterback, so who will replace Sam Ehlinger?
After first balking at the idea, the University to Texas indeed fired head football coach Tom Herman. Steve Sarkisian, most recently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, is coming in as the new head coach. No. 1 on his agenda as spring practice nears is finding a new starting quarterback, as Sam Ehlinger heads to the NFL as a likely late-round pick.
Ehlinger made 43 starts and played in 46 games over his four seasons in Austin, and he’s one of the winningest and statistically accomplished quarterbacks in program (and Big 12) history. So he won’t be easily replaced, and the competition to do so will be the primary storyline during spring practice for the Longhorns.
So who will replace Sam Ehlinger as the Longhorns’ starter?
Casey Thompson has to be the current front runner to replace Ehlinger, entering his fourth year in the program. Of course he didn’t play much as Ehlinger’s backup, seeing action in seven games with 29 pass attempts over the last two years. But his performance against Colorado in the Alamo Bowl to end last season (8-for-10, 170 yards and four touchdowns; 17 rushing yards) is fresh in memories.
Also in the mix is Hudson Card, a four-star recruit in the 2020 class out of legendary Lake Travis High School in Austin. In 247 Sports composite rankings, only three quarterbacks (Bryce Young-Alabama, D.J, Uiagalelei-Clemson and CJ Stroud-Ohio State) ranked above him. As a true freshman last season, with no eligibility consequences to having him play due to the pandemic, Card completed one of three pass attempts for five yards.
Card impressed the old Longhorns’ coaching staff last summer, to the point he was favored to be Ehlinger’s successor. Via SI.com’s Longhorns Country, given he has no tangible experience with his new quarterbacks yet, Sarkisian is being open-minded.
“I feel pretty good [about quarterbacks] at this point,” I mean I haven’t seen them live, which is concerning for me, considering I’m the quarterback guy,” Sarkisian said. “But I do like the maturity of [Thompson]. I like what he brought in the [Alamo Bowl] game. You got a pretty good feel. We’ve obviously dug into a lot of practice tape. I like the skill set of Hudson Card. I think he’s a really talented player, and you see that when you dig into the practice tape.”
Sarkisian also mentioned Charles Wright, a three-star recruit in the 2021 class out of Austin and 247 Sports’ 33rd-ranked pro-style quarterback in the class. He doesn’t seem to figure prominently in the battle to replace Ehlinger this year, but an injury could change that and even being third on the depth chart some in-season action can’t be ruled out.
Thompson is the easy favorite to succeed Ehlinger as the Longhorns’ starting quarterback next season. They way it looks right now Card will probably have to clearly unseat him, starting with spring work and perhaps extending into preseason camp as long as the battle for the starting job is kept open.