Big 12 Football, Football

Is a Graduate Transfer Quarterback Worth it for Texas?

Tom Herman has made it very clear in his words and his actions that he expects to win in 2017. That was made even more crystal clear when news came out recently that Herman is heavily recruiting Brandon Harris, a graduate transfer who has spent his college career playing quarterback at LSU. However, with Harris’ recent commitment to play for North Carolina this year, Herman will have to explore other options.

I always thought Herman would entertain the idea of bringing in a graduate transfer at the quarterback position, considering he only has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster at the moment (third-stringer Matthew Merrick quit the program to focus on academics recently).

One of them is Shane Buechele, who started every game for the Longhorns last season. The other is Sam Ehlinger, a true freshman early-enrollee who has only been on campus for a couple months.

I’ve discussed the good things and bad things from each of the quarterbacks before. I feel like it’s a good thing that Herman is pursuing a graduate transfer QB to provide some depth and competition at the position. However, I’m glad Harris chose another route, so Herman can focus his efforts elsewhere.

Harris has started at LSU on random occasions over the past few seasons. He was highly recruited out of high school and there’s no doubting his athletic ability. But the fact that he couldn’t keep a stranglehold on the job at LSU is telling. I’m not a hardcore LSU follower, but they are involved in plenty big games where I watched Harris play enough to gather an opinion.

What I observed is a quarterback who is pretty athletic, but isn’t going to outrun or finesse anyone to break a long run. He’s not very accurate most of the time, but he can make some really good throws occasionally to give you hope. And he seems to pretty indecisive, almost like he either thinks too much or has no clue what the defense is doing (or what play his offense is running).

Who does that sound like?

Yep. The 18-wheeler himself, Tyrone Swoopes.

There are just way too many similarities between the two to get excited about bringing Harris in. His experience would have been valuable, but will he really win more games this year than Buechele would?

Herman said in an interview after a practice recently that he would worry about developing his other quarterbacks next spring if a graduate transfer is better than them this year. There’s good and bad to that situation.

What if Buechele doesn’t appreciate a graduate transfer coming in for just a year and taking the job from him? Does he transfer himself? Does he lose confidence? Or does he grind harder as the backup, knowing that he’s got two years left to prove his worth?

And then what if a graduate transfer does get the job and wins 6-7 games? It would seem like a loss of a year of experience for Buechele, since he could hopefully win that many games on his own.

That’s the bad.

The good thing is bringing in a graduate transfer QB is ideal for Ehlinger’s situation, since it’s best if he redshirts anyway. It would also send a message to the team that Herman doesn’t care who is on the field, as long as the team is winning. The notion that anyone is replaceable should make the effort level rise at every position.

My thought is if Herman brings in a graduate QB transfer, it says more about what he thinks about Ehlinger than it does about anyone else. I believe Ehlinger is Herman’s type of player, but he knows he won’t be ready to lead the team this season as a true freshman. A graduate transfer QB would allow Ehlinger to redshirt, get used to the system and be more prepared to take over next year.

There are so many “what ifs” that it’s hard for me to be convinced that a graduate QB transfer is needed right now or not. Of course, if we were talking about JT Barrett or another no-brainer guy with a ton of talent, then it would be a different story.

Harris is not a no-brainer type acquisition. That’s the reason why I’m glad he chose to play elsewhere.

Depth at the QB position is desperately needed, but Herman doesn’t need to be desperate in finding just any quarterback. If the right one comes around at the right time, then grab him.

I’ve said it many times already this offseason, but it’s worth saying again…In Herman We Trust.

E-mail Chase at chase [dot] holik [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

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