The Texas Longhorns return 19 starters from a team that won nine games and the Alamo Bowl over Oregon State in 2013. That is tied for the most returners in the nation, but all eyes in Austin will be on the one who will either bring Texas back to the top of the Big 12, or crumble under the pressure, in quarterback David Ash.
As a sophomore, Ash started most games during the 2012-13 season, but was pulled on several occasions in favor of backup Case McCoy. In fact, it was McCoy who engineered a last-gasp, game-winning drive to thwart the upset-minded Kansas Jayhawks while Ash looked on from the sidelines.
Coach Mack Brown and the team as a whole is looking for Ash to take the reins of the starting quarterback role and run with it, and not only on the football field.
Ash, a naturally quiet leader, has been asked to accept an increased leadership role in the locker room as he heads into a junior season that may very well come to define him as a player.
Luckily, he has the support of a Longhorns legend to help guide him.
“An area where Ash needs considerable improvement is in demonstrative leadership, which doesn’t come easily for him because of his low-key personality,” Randy Riggs of the (Austin, Texas) American-Statesman writes. “There have been reports, however, that quarterbacking great Vince Young, who’s taking classes this semester, has been talking to Ash. So it will be interesting to see if Ash picks up any of Young’s leadership skills.”
Of course, Young’s failure to succeed at the NFL level has been well-documented. He never lived up to expectations after earning a first-round draft selection from the Tennessee Titans, but that should not diminish his 2005 national championship season, or the numbers he put up over the course of his time in a Longhorns jersey.
Having a guy like Young, who has been there before, providing winning advice for Texas’ current starter at the game’s most important position can only help.
However, should Ash fail to improve upon his 2,699 yard, 19 touchdown and eight interception season of a year ago, Riggs details where the Horns might turn for production.
“While Texas knows what it has in backup Case McCoy, watching the young quarterbacks — Jalen Overstreet, Connor Brewer and Tyrone Swoopes — continue to take their baby steps [this spring] could be instructive.”
Spring practices will provide Horns Nation with its first look at Ash since he threw for 241 yards, two scores and a pick in the Alamo Bowl victory.
Hopefully, fans and coaches like what they see.