Not surprisingly, Texas will begin the season with a familiar face under center.
Charlie Strong confirmed the expected at his Monday press conference, acknowledging that it’ll be Tyrone Swoopes who starts at quarterback when UT travels to South Bend for Saturday’s game against Notre Dame. Swoopes had been in a battle with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, although most thought the nod would go to the incumbent.
In fact, Strong stated that he had known for a couple of weeks that Swoopes was his guy, but held off on publicly naming a starter to allow the competition to play out a little longer.
Taking over as the starter for a concussed David Ash last season, Swoopes started all but one game in 2014. He had moments where he was brilliant — 300-plus yards passing Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State — and others where he looked absolutely lost — 24-point bowl loss to Arkansas, four interceptions in a 38-point loss to TCU. Those latter two performances came in back-to-back games to close out the season, leading Strong to open up the competition in the spring.
Swoopes exited the spring as the No. 1 quarterback, and maintained that position throughout summer camp. As he had previously stated, Strong reiterated that both Swoopes and Heard will see the field.
Four years and several lifetimes ago, Connor Brewer committed to Texas as then-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin‘s hand-picked signal caller out of Scottsdale, Ariz. Brewer stayed one season, then, seeing the writing on the wall regarding franchise quarterback David Ash, Brewer elected to transfer during the summer of 2013. (Please, do yourself a favor: reread the previous two sentences and take a few moments to ponder exactly how many generations Brewer’s career has lasted.)
Brewer landed at Arizona, where he sat out the 2013 season and then watched Anu Solomon firmly take control of the Wildcats’ quarterback position the following year. Brewer did not attempt a pass during the 2014 season, and in January he received his release to purse a new destination. After some brief talk that he’d transfer back to Texas, Brewer announced in April he’d found his forever home: Northern Arizona.
“After these wild few years of college, I have officially decided that my last stop will be at Northern Arizona University,” he wrote on Instagram. “I will pursue my graduate degree and have two more years of football to play. I am excited to get on the field again and to finally show people what I am capable of.”
That lasted all of two months.
On Tuesday, 247Sports broke the news that Brewer will now play play his 2015 season at Virginia.
A graduate transfer, Brewer will compete with Matt Johns for the right to replace Greyson Lambert, who last week became a graduate transfer of his own in moving to Georgia. In four seasons spread across two programs, Brewer has appeared in one career game. His next pass thrown in a college game will be his first.
“I just got off the phone with coach (Mike) London and committed to Virginia,” Brewer told the site. “Obviously I love the coaching staff there. They run a great pro-style offense. They can help me be really successful. It’s a good opportunity to compete for the job and be the guy and win some games for them. Virginia is a great program. I want to help them get it back to where it used to be. Plus it’s a great place academically.”
And, in the most unbelievable yet somehow true aspect of this story, Brewer still has two years of eligibility remaining.
More than ever, college football players — and those recently removed from this level — are putting their head health ahead of their playing careers. Just in the past several months, the likes of Texas quarterback David Ash, former Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland and Michigan offensive lineman Jack Miller have walked away from the game over concussion concerns.
Monday, Tyler Henderson joined that growing list.
On the social media platform Instagram, the Wake Forest sophomore announced that he is retiring from the sport of football. Henderson sustained a concussion in the midst of his true freshman season last year and still, over six months later, he still hasn’t fully recovered.
The concerns for his future health prompted the running back to step away from the game. From Henderson’s heartfelt statement:
“I’ve had a concussion for almost 7 months now, and after lots of praying and talking to numerous doctors and loved ones, I have decided to retire from the game I love and that brings me so much joy. It is such a hard thing to do, but it’s what’s best for my future and my health. I hate that my football career had to end like this and this soon, but I know and I trust that God has a bigger plan for me. “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming” — Romans 8:18. Keep me in your prayers. Football, you will be missed.”
In his only season with the Demon Deacons, Henderson played in six games. He rushed for six yards on three carries.
According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, Henderson is expected to remain on scholarship and help coach running backs at Wake.
Were it not for concussion issues, and armed with a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA, David Ash would’ve been entering spring practice this year as a fifth-year senior.
Instead, the head injury concerns forced the Texas quarterback to retire from the game of football in September of 2014 and leaves him on the outside of the sport looking in as the Longhorns get set to kick off its second spring practice under head coach Charlie Strong in a couple of weeks. The premature retirement also forced him to deal with conflicting emotions on Twitter, the first of which was…
… which was followed up less than 24 hours later by…
After being anointed as the starter last July, Ash suffered yet another head injury in the 2014 season opener against North Texas and never stepped on the field again.
At a press conference Sept. 17, Strong stated that it was Ash who “actually came up to me and approached me” about retiring from the sport. The decision came after consultation with the UT medical staff, and it was likely the wisest course of action given Ash’s history.
In addition to the issue this past year, Ash also missed most of the 2013 season due to a concussion suffered early on in the year. After incurring the original injury Sept. 7, Ash returned two weeks later only to see the concussion symptoms recur and sideline him yet again. In late November, Ash was officially shut down for what little was left of the season. In mid-January, he was cleared by the UT medical staff to resume football activities.
In mid-April last year, Ash broke a bone in his left foot and missed the remainder of spring practice.
A month after his retirement, it was reported that Ash was going to take a swing at playing baseball for the Longhorns. That dream died a couple of months later as, in January, he was left off UT’s 35-man stick-and-ball roster. While “at peace,” all that did was add to the heartbreak of being forced to retire from the sport he’d been playing since he was a little kid.
“In the core of my heart of hearts, I knew I shouldn’t be playing,” Ash said around the time he walked away from football. “I don’t think my hopes were ever really high. I’ve met my quota for crying for the next 10 years. …
“I’m at peace with [the decision to walk away]. God has given me a peace. I have a lot of hope and a lot of belief that there’s still awesome days ahead for me.
You know what they say: if you love a quarterback let him transfer to Arizona, and if he comes back he is yours forever.
A four-star recruit out of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Connor Brewer signed with Texas as its quarterback for the 2012 class. He was then-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin‘s hand-picked selection for that class, if you want to know just how far back in ancient history we’re talking.
Brewer redshirted that 2012 season and, seeing the writing on the wall that the Texas quarterback job belonged to David Ash for the 2013 and ’14 seasons and in no way would he ever possibly get hurt, Brewer transferred to nearby Arizona. He sat out the 2013 season and did not see action in 2014 as a pro-style passer in Rich Rodriguez‘s quarterback-run heavy offense.
With Anu Solomon entrenched in Tucson, Brewer is again on the move. He was granted his release on Wednesday and, as a graduate transfer, will have immediate eligibility with two seasons still left to play.
Reached by the Austin American-Statesman on Thursday, Brewer’s father didn’t shut the door to his son’s return to Austin. In fact, he kicked the thing wide open.
There is the question of whether he would be a fit at Texas and if the new regime of Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson would be interested. Brewer has been beaten out at two different schools, and hasn’t thrown a pass in a competitive situation since 2011. Is that really the guy Strong wants to entrust his critical 2015 season to? And then you remember Texas heads into spring practice with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, 2015 commit Zach Gentry on the way and an incumbent in Tyrone Swoopes coming off consecutive losses to TCU and Arkansas in which he completed 33-of-59 passes for 257 yards with two total touchdowns, six turnovers and 17 total points produced. There’s a good chance Strong would consider 1980’s quarterback Robert Brewer if he had any eligibility left. The Longhorns can’t exactly afford to be picky.
Of course, had Brewer never transferred in the first place there’s a greater than zero chance he’s heading into the 2015 season as an entrenched starter with two seasons of experience to his credit. Maybe these two really are meant for each other after all.