It seemed like fait accompli that Shane Buechele would leave Texas for SMU, and that fate is now complete.
After putting his name in the transfer portal in mid-January, everyone who was anyone was pointing to SMU as his likely destination, and they did so for two reasons. First, it was close to home for the Arlington, Texas, native. Second and most importantly, the Mustangs were in the market for a graduate transfer quarterback after watching their own multi-year starter, Ben Hicks, graduate transfer to Arkansas.
Thanks to the new redshirt rule, Buechele will have two years to play for SMU, where he figures to compete with rising sophomore William Brown for the starting job. Brown played quite well as a freshman, hitting 53-of-85 passes for 625 yards with seven touchdowns against just one pick.
Still, Buechele will be seen as the favorite to start for SMU next season thanks to his experience playing and learning as a Longhorn. He started his first game as a collegiate player, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns in that memorable-for-how-un-memorable-it-wound-up-being win over Notre Dame to kick off the 2016 season. He started that entire season, hitting 60 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.
Sam Ehlinger arrived in 2017 and Buechele beat him out for Snap 1 in Game 1, but injuries and inconsistent play saw him yo-yo from the field to the bench throughout the year. He saw serious action in five games, and for the year completed 137 of his 213 tosses for 1,405 yards with seven scores against four picks. Buechele was Ehlinger’s full-time backup this past season, but those involved still pointed to him as an integral part of the team. Tom Herman referred to Buechele as the most engaged backup he’d ever coached, and when called upon Buechele nursed home wins over Baylor and Iowa State for a temporarily injured Ehlinger, in the process connecting on 30-of-44 passes for 273 yards with two scores and one interception.
Those were the only two games in which Buechele played, meaning he will get to repeat his junior season for SMU in 2019.
Buechele is the third Texas quarterback to consider leaving and the second to follow through with it. Freshman Cameron Rising left already for Utah, and fellow freshman Casey Thompson opted to return as Ehlinger’s backup rather than leave. Texas signed 4-star Roschon Johnson in December and convinced 3-star Sam Saxton to spurn an offer from Rutgers (among others) to walk-on for his hometown team.