And then there were two
Embattled and then injured Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert decided to take his football and move from Austin, ending a lackluster career that began with so much promise.
On Wednesday, the University of Texas granted Gilbert an "unconditional release" from his football scholarship.
I t wasn't supposed to end this way. There is no quarterback in Longhorn history who began with as high expectations as Gilbert.
"This was a very difficult decision because I love The University of Texas and have had a great time playing there," said Gilbert. "I've talked to Coach Brown, Coach Harsin and the staff and have decided it is in my best interest to transfer. I can't thank all of my teammates and everyone at Texas enough for all of their support, but I just think I'm at a point in my life where I need a fresh start."
It wasn't supposed to end this way. There is no quarterback in Longhorn history who began with as high expectations as Gilbert. A hometown hero, Gilbert led Lake Travis High School to two straight state football championships. Many of the high school scouts ranked him the best quarterback prospect in the country. And he certainly whetted the appetite of fans when he unexpectedly became "the man" in the 2010 National Championship game.
After starting quarterback (and Longhorn legend) Colt McCoy went down on the fifth play of that game, Gilbert came in and kept Texas close. With three minutes left in the game, he had the ball in his hands and was one touchdown away from victory. While Texas lost to Alabama, Texas fans were ready for another superstar quarterback to emerge. It wasn't to be.
Gilbert's 2010 season was nothing less than a disaster. Completing only 59% of his passes, throwing only 10 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions and lacking team leadership skills meant the Longhorns would have a season to remember that they would much prefer to forget.
And he started this season no better, finally getting benched during the second game of the season. Then, with all the drama of a Shakespearean tragedy, he underwent shoulder surgery, ending his season and finally his career as a Longhorn.
"Coach Brown was very understanding and granted me a release to take some visits while I decide where I'm going to transfer to. That's what I'll be doing while I continue school at Texas this semester. I'm excited to focus on getting my shoulder back to 100 percent and to decide where my next step will be, but I will always be thankful for my opportunity at Texas and be pulling for all of my friends and family in the Longhorns program."
He appears to be thinking real hard about SMU. Rivals website Pony Pride reports Gilbert visited campus Wednesday morning.
It's the right time for Gilbert to leave and it's the best thing for him. He could never be a leader on this Texas team, that ship had sailed. A fresh start under a new coach with a new offense and new teammates might be just what he needs. Let's hope so. Garrett Gilbert is good guy and deserves all the success he is able to muster.
"Garrett is a terrific young man and we are very appreciative of everything he has done for our program. I know this has been a tough decision, and I can't thank him enough for hanging in there, helping the younger guys and being a great team guy even after he hurt his shoulder." said Head Coach Mack Brown. " We talked about his decision and we all fully support him. Whatever school he decides to go to will get a guy who will work as hard as anyone and compete both on the field and in the classroom. He is the type of student-athlete any coach would be proud to have in their program. We wish him the best and will be watching and rooting for him as he continues his college football career and in the future."
And then there were two
A Texas football program that started the year flush with talent at the quarterback position now finds itself with only two—strong-armed freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy, the kid with the genetic code for success. Just a month ago, highly touted Connor Wood also was granted a transfer.
Two quarterbacks are generally OK as long as everyone stays healthy. Except in this case both quarterbacks are playing a lot. The number three guy, John Paul Floyd, only has experience on the scout team. Finding a quarterback becomes job one for the Texas high school scouts, and Offensive co-coordinator Bryan Harsin.