Unlike Ohio State fans during his time in Columbus, the University of Texas faithful were treated to the Quinn Ewers show this spring.
During his first and only season for the Buckeyes, Ewers played just two snaps and did not tally a single pass attempt in the scarlet and gray. On Dec. 3, 2021, Ewers entered the transfer portal — ending his short-lived Ohio State career — and landed with Texas, the university he initially committed to, just days after his departure from the Buckeyes.
Ewers made his first appearance in the burnt orange at Texas’ annual spring game on April 23 and displayed his talent for a fanbase desperate for a quarterback who could return the program to the mountaintop of college football.
On his second drive of the spring game, Ewers flashed his potential. He rolled right after faking a handoff to Keilan Robinson before setting his feet and firing a dime just over the head of defensive back Jamier Johnson and into the hands of Wyoming transfer receiver Isaiah Neyor for a 62-yard touchdown.
Ewers’ touchdown strike to Neyor was the highlight of an otherwise up-and-down day for the Ohio State transfer. While Ewers saw highs, he also saw lows in the spring game. He was baited into an interception when he tried to force the ball to wide receiver Casey Cain across the middle of the field, instead finding the chest of defensive back Anthony Cook.
Brian Davis, a reporter covering Texas football and men’s basketball for the Austin American-Statesman, said Ewers is still going through the process of learning how to play at this level.
“The one thing that I saw was someone who looked like a true freshman out there, because, let’s be honest, that’s kind of what he is. He will make a throw that leaves you thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, holy moly’, but then he’ll make a throw right to the defensive back for a turnover. We saw that in the spring game,” Davis said. “Does that make him good, bad or different? No, that makes him a brand new college quarterback.
“It’s one thing to be at Ohio State and take a bunch of reps with the third team or fourth team, whatever it was, and it’s something totally different to be at a Power Five school and you’re taking the reps with the first team,” he continued. “Expectations, everything are ratcheted up to sky-high levels. Texas fans, and maybe even (Steve) Sarkisian himself, are basically buying in on the hype right now that this guy is as good as everyone says or hopes that he is. Honestly, to me it remains to be seen.”
With last season’s starting quarterback Casey Thompson transferring to Nebraska, Ewers finds himself engrossed in a quarterback competition with redshirt sophomore Hudson Card — former Buckeye receiver Garrett Wilson’s quarterback at Lake Travis High School.
Card saw limited action in 2021, appearing in eight games and starting two. He completed 61.4 percent of passes for 590 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Most notably, Card started in Texas’ season-opening 38-18 win over then-No. 18 University of Louisiana — completing 14 of 21 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
Although Card has game experience for the Longhorns, Davis said he believes the job will go to Ewers.
“I keep using the Trevor Lawrence example, the Jaguars didn’t draft Trevor Lawrence to sit on the bench. Quinn Ewers did not come here to sit on the bench,” Davis said. “I just think the general feeling is when you’ve got someone who was once the No. 1 rated athlete in the recruiting class, get him on the field to play.
“Hudson Card, there’s a feeling that we’ve seen what he can do,” he continued. “And if he cannot win the job through summer workouts with the coaching staff and if you haven’t won the job by the second week of August, then the program is going to move on. You might as well go with the young guy that everybody wants to see.”
While Card is Ewers’ primary competitor for the starting job now, he will have to fend off quite the competition in his second season with the Longhorns. Texas earned the commitment of 2023 quarterback Arch Manning, the No. 1 prospect in his class according to both 247Sports and Rivals, on Thursday.
With Manning in the fold with the Longhorns next season, Ewers may find himself engulfed in yet another quarterback battle. But, Davis doesn’t see it that way and mapped out a potential blueprint that Texas may follow with its two star quarterbacks.
“Let’s say that Quinn starts this year and just does really well or just plays well enough where you feel good about him as the starter in ‘23,” he said. “Now Quinn comes back as the starter in ‘23 but you have Arch Manning. Now, everything that I’ve read indicates that the Manning family would be open to a redshirt in ‘23. Not saying that’s going to happen, but I’ve read and heard that they would be open to the possibility. That would mean Quinn is your starter in ‘23, then he’s now eligible for the NFL draft.
“I’m not saying it’s going to happen but I’m saying that this is a potential roadmap of Quinn Ewers as the starter for two years – goes to the NFL, and then Arch takes over.”
Davis said that Ewers has already “come off very well with his teammates” and that he thinks he has been itching to get back on the field, now in burnt orange and white.
“I genuinely think that he just wants to get on the field and play, and show what he can do,” he said. “I truly think he just wants to get on the field and ball for them.”