AUSTIN _ Texas football coach Mack Brown said he will spend significant time developing both quarterbacks during spring drills, which began Thursday, with plans to have both David Ash and Case McCoy capable of being used on an interchangeable basis next fall.
Ash, who will be a sophomore, took every snap in the team’s 21-10 victory over California in the Holiday Bowl to cap last year’s 8-5 season. McCoy, who will be a junior, started five games last fall, including a 26-24 victory over Texas A&M at College Station.
“We don’t care who walks out first at any position today,” said Brown, who does not plan to release an official depth chart until August. “You really need two quarterbacks. Everybody talks about the guy and the star. We have … had the guy and the star, and then he gets hurt, he’s sick and we lose a game. So we have really got to put an emphasis on being two-deep and making sure that we improve in that area.”
The battle for Texas’ starting quarterback job, said Brown, will boil down to a short set of considerations.
“That’s who scores touchdowns, who protects the ball … and who is the best leader,” Brown said. “That’s what our quarterback position will be about.”
Although Texas added to junior-college signees (OT Donald Hawkins, DT Brandon Moore) to bolster the respective lines _ the school’s first JC additions in a decade _ Brown said he was not tempted to bring in a junior-college quarterback to compete for the position this spring.
“You can get too many quarterbacks,” Brown said. “Unless we could get someone we knew was 100 percent better (than existing players), it would make a confusing situation more confusing again. We wanted to show confidence and move forward with the guys we have.”
Brown said freshman Connor Brewer, who enrolled in January, will receive snaps comparable to those given a third-team quarterback during spring drills.
Turnover drills: Ball security will be an issue for players on both sides of the ball in daily drills, Brown said. Defensive players will be expected to force three turnovers in each practice. Offensive players are allowed only one turnover per workout. Brown said players who meet or exceed their goal will be rewarded. Those who fall short will receive reminders to do better.
In addition, Brown said players received grades from coaches before Thursday’s initial workout _ ranging from poor to exceptional _ based on effort given during multiple off-season drills. Brown said he is seeking more tangible ways to make points with players and “to win more than eight games” after last year’s 8-5 season.
Random drug tests: Brown said his players are subject to random drug tests, similar to the one that made recent headlines at TCU, with screeners typically checking 36 players at a time. Penalties for a failed test, Brown said, can range from counseling to suspension to dismissal from the program for repeat offenders. Brown said Texas tests for both recreational drugs and performance-enhancing drugs.
Injury update: Three players will miss spring drills because of injury/surgery: TE Greg Daniels, DE Jackson Jeffcoat and DB Adrian Phillips.
Onyegbule position switch: Miles Onyegbule, an Arlington High School graduate, will practice at both receiver and H-back during the spring, Brown said, with coaches envisioning a full-time move to the H-back/tight end role in the fall. Onyegbule (6-foot-4, 228 pounds) had four catches at receiver in 12 games as a freshman last season.
“He came to us (about the move),” Brown said. “We always thought he’d be a 250-pound guy, based on his body type. He may be a great tight end before it’s over.”
Other position changes: Brown said Daniels, who played DT and TE last season, is now a full-time tight end. Although Daniels will not take part in spring drills, he will be in tight end meetings. DL Chris Whaley will work at both DE and DT during spring drills. Chet Moss, who played LB last season, is now a full-time FB.
Track trio: Three players will miss selected practices this spring because they are competing on the Longhorns’ track team: WR Marquise Goodwin, DB Sheroid Evans and RB D.J. Monroe. It will mark the first time for Goodwin, a senior who is an Olympic caliber long jumper, to take part in spring football drills. Goodwin ranked third on the team in receptions (33) and receiving yards (421) last season.
“We don’t want to hurt his chances to get to the Olympics, but he’s going to run at least some seven-on-seven (drills),” Brown said.
Williams statue: Texas officials will unveil a statue of running back Ricky Williams, the Longhorns’ 1998 Heisman Trophy winner, during a ceremony before the team’s spring game on April 1. The eight-foot, 1,000-pound statue will be located in the southwest corner of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, next to the statue of 1977 Heisman winner Earl Campbell. Williams, who retired from the NFL after playing last season for the Baltimore Ravens, will attend the ceremony.
Texas spring game will kick off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 1 in Austin.
_ Jimmy Burch