The Texas Longhorns have been grazing in a field of mediocrity for the past decade. Since reaching the national title game in 2009, Texas has more losing seasons than 10-win campaigns.
Tom Herman and Sam Ehlinger brought the Longhorns back from the depths of the Charlie Strong era, but they still haven’t met expectations at one of college football’s most prestigious programs. Texas fans got a glimpse of their future when sophomore quarterback Casey Thompson relieved Ehlinger in the Valero Alamo Bowl Tuesday night, and boy should they be excited.
Thompson looked like a star in the making in the first real game action of his career. Could he be the one to bring Texas back from the dead?
Sam Ehlinger is still undecided on his future
Entering the Valero Alamo Bowl on Tuesday night, Texas starting QB Sam Ehlinger remained undecided on his future with the program. Ehlinger has the option to return for a fifth year of eligibility instead of declaring for the NFL draft.
If he did decide to enter the draft pool for 2021, he would most likely be a late-round pick. Ehlinger is great with his legs in short-yardage situations, but his accuracy and arm talent leave a little to be desired. The QB would have to fight for a roster spot as a rookie in 2021.
The only way Ehlinger could boost his draft stock would be to return for another season at Texas and show NFL teams he can improve as a passer. It won’t be an easy decision for the four-year starter over the next few weeks.
Casey Thompson lit it up in relief of Ehlinger
When Ehlinger left the Valero Alamo Bowl with a shoulder injury, Longhorns fans figured they were doomed. Here we go again, they thought. Another disappointing finish to a season. What else is new?
But not so fast, said backup QB Casey Thompson. Thompson came in the game to replace Ehlinger in the second half, and he announced his arrival in style.
The sophomore led Texas on a two-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. He got the ball back a few minutes later and scored again in just five plays. Thompson capped his night off with a 73-yard touchdown strike to put the dagger in the Colorado Buffaloes.
Thompson finished the game with 170 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 pass attempts. He was dynamic and explosive throwing the ball down the field the way Ehlinger has never been.
Texas has found its quarterback of the future.
Texas has a tough decision to make at quarterback
Texas fans love and appreciate what Sam Ehlinger has done for the program in the last four years, but there’s no denying the star power Casey Thompson showed last night. Ehlinger is a fine college quarterback. But is he special enough to make the Longhorns a national title contender?
If Ehlinger returns for a fifth year, it would be nearly impossible to bench him after what he’s put into the program. That decision would surely push Thompson to explore the transfer portal, as he’s done in the past. He would be the most sought-after QB transfer for next year after what he displayed in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Is Texas prepared to let Thompson walk out the door and shine for another program just to stay loyal to Ehlinger? It might sound crazy, but the Longhorns might be praying Ehlinger decides to leave for the draft.
Casey Thompson’s got next.