Texas Longhorns

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With Brandon Harris off the board, Texas reportedly looking at former ND QB Malik Zaire

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Texas pursued former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but Harris is no longer interested in being pursued.

After Harris’s commitment to North Carolina, Tom Herman has reportedly turned his interests to the next logical choice in the graduate transfer market — former Notre Dame signal caller Malik Zaire.

The news comes from Chip Brown of Horns Digest who, unfortunately hid the goods behind a pay wall.

The move would be an interesting one considering Zaire’s history with the Longhorns. Zaire played like a Heisman candidate in a 38-3 crunching of Texas on the opening night of the 2015 season, hitting 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we know, Zaire was lost for the year to a broken ankle one week later, but managed to win back the starting job in training camp before the ’16 season.

Zaire didn’t last long, though, hitting 2-of-5 passes for 23 yards while being credited for no gain on three rushes, giving way to DeShone Kizer in an eventual 50-47 double overtime loss to the Longhorns in Austin to open last season.

Zaire would toss only 18 more passes as a Fighting Irish quarterback.

If Zaire reciprocates Herman’s interest he would immediately join an open quarterback battle with incumbent Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger. At the time of his South Bend departure Zaire was reportedly considering Wisconsin, Baylor and recently off-the-market North Carolina.

QB Matthew Merrick leaving Longhorns to focus on academics

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Third on the depth chart and with little hope of climbing any higher, Matthew Merrick has decided to shift his focus to the first part of the word “student-athlete.”

Texas announced via a press release that Merrick has decided to leave the Longhorns football program and focus on his academics at the university. At some point in the future, particularly if an opportunity presents itself, either at UT or elsewhere, Merrick will reevaluate his prospects in the sport.

“I had a great talk with [offensive coordinator Tim] Beck, who was willing to help me with whatever I decided to do,” a statement from Merrick began. “After discussing it with my family, I’ve decided to step away from the football team and focus on my academics at UT. If an opportunity in football were to present itself in the future, that’s something I would consider, but for now, I believe it’s best to strengthen my academics as much as possible.

“I want to thank all of my teammates, the staff, Coach Beck and [head coach Tom] Herman for their support, and I appreciate all of the relationships I’ve built during my time with the team. I’ll always consider myself a Longhorn and will be rooting them on in the future.”

Merrick was the Longhorns’ No. 3 quarterback, behind starter Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger. A walk-on, Josh Covery, is also on the roster.

Jerrod Heard had moved to wide receiver earlier this offseason; it’s unclear if this development will ultimately lead him back under center, although that’s not a direction the program will head toward at the moment. The Longhorns are also pursuing LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris.

A three-star 2015 signee, Merrick was rated as the No. 56 pro-style quarterback in the country that year.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then didn’t see the field in 2016.  In the fall of 2015, though, he was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Texas-Texas Tech rivalry somehow comes up during Congressional hearing

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Big 12 football was among the last topics you’d expect to come up during today’s Congressional hearing, but, given the news cycle these days, perhaps the unexpected should be expected.

As FBI director James Comey testified before Congress, Texas Representative Mike Conaway tried to equate the 2016 election with the Texas-Texas Tech football rivalry. Or something. See if you can make sense of this.

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Suddenly drawn into the inner-workings of Washington, Texas Tech sprung its head up to take advantage.

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Tune in next week, when the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry somehow gets drawn into the health care debate.

Former Texas QB David Ash cleared to play again, will participate at Longhorns’ Pro Day

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Three years is an eternity in college football but it’s apparently not too long for one quarterback.

Texas announced on Thursday that former starting signal-caller David Ash was cleared to play football again by doctors and will take part in the Longhorns’ Pro Day at the end of March.

Ash looked like he was going to be the future at the position after playing well early in his career but had to deal with a history of concussions that forced him out of the game. After complaining of symptoms following UT’s 2014 opener, he announced that he was retiring from the sport as a junior and didn’t play another snap for the burnt orange.

Apparently Ash felt the itch to play again because it certainly sounds as though he will be attempting a comeback by trying to make an NFL roster.

Perhaps most interesting is that a school spokesperson told ESPN that Ash will also be punting at Texas’ Pro Day in an attempt to latch on at that level on special teams.

North Carolina leads Texas, Arizona in derby for ex-LSU QB Brandon Harris

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Brandon Harris is, along with former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, a top quarterback on the transfer market right now, and the former LSU signal caller has narrowed his next school down to three choices.

Harris has announced plans to visit North Carolina, Texas and Arizona but tacitly admitted the Heels as his leader in an interview with Fox Sports’s Bruce Feldman. While visits to Austin and Tucson are lined up, Harris said of his March 23 trip to Chapel Hill, “[I]f North Carolina blows me away I’ll go to North Carolina.”

Harris is set to graduate from LSU this summer and, as such, would be immediately eligible to play for UNC. The Heels have a vacancy with Mitch Trubisky‘s graduation.

“I like the coach (Larry Fedora) and the coordinator and the situation. They’ve had some great quarterbacks back to back,” Harris said. “If I go there, I know I have the opportunity to win now. They have a winning culture. That system is friendly — and I know that quarterbacks have had great success in that system. I feel like it’s a good fit for me to go in there and compete.”

In addition to the listed contenders, Harris also told Feldman he heard from two SEC schools that would have liked him to visit.