Football: Heard ‘fine’ as race to back up Ash begins

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David Minton/DRC
Surrounded by a crowd of cameras and reporters, Texas coach Charlie Strong glances at his players as he speaks at Big 12 Media Days Tuesday in Dallas.

DALLAS — Jerrod Heard etched his name in Texas high school football lore over the past two years as the quarterback at Guyer, leading the Wildcats to the first two state championships in the program’s brief history.

After earning his second straight championship game offensive MVP honor in Guyer’s victory over San Antonio Brennan in December, Heard set his sights toward leading the Texas Longhorns to the same heights at the next level.

Though the 6-2, 190-pound signal caller has yet to begin his first fall camp as a Longhorn, he’s already impressing his coaches and teammates in Austin.

“He’s doing fine right now,” senior running back Malcolm Brown said Tuesday at Big 12 media days. “We don’t do a whole bunch of stuff [right now], but through workouts he looks great. He’s a fast, quick guy. There’s not a whole bunch I can judge right now. It’s a little different when you get the pads on. As of right now, though, he looks fine. He’s great.”

In new head coach Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin, he will be relying on one of the elder statesmen of Big 12 quarterbacks in David Ash, who was granted a medical redshirt last season as a junior after playing in just three games.

Ash has suffered numerous injuries as the Texas quarterback. He most recently dealt with concussion issues that threatened to end his career before he was cleared to play, then suffered a foot injury that forced him out of spring workouts.

That opened the door for sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who played in six games last season in reserve duty, to take most of the reps during the spring with Heard still finishing his senior year of high school.

Since arriving on campus in early June, Heard has made his presence felt and has worked his way into an equal competition with Swoopes for the backup job.

“I haven’t had a chance to really watch Jerrod a lot because right now they’re just working out and doing those things, but in another week here we’ll be doing a lot with Jerrod because he’s going to be given a lot of opportunities,” Strong said.

Heard made the most of his opportunities at Guyer, leading the Wildcats to consecutive Class 4A Division I titles. He capped his career by throwing for 2,136 yards and 22 scores while rushing for 2,161 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior and earned a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks.

If Heard outplays Swoopes in fall camp, he will establish himself as Texas’ backup behind Ash.

“You look at Ash, you look at Tyrone and you look at Jerrod, and that’s all we have [at quarterback], so they’re going to get a lot of work,” Strong said. “You just have to prepare each one of them. The thing with David that’s going to be key is just trying to keep him healthy.”

Added Brown: “It’s going to be important for us to get those guys work. You never know what can happen, and that’s with any position. The guy behind a starter has to be ready anytime, at any moment.”

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.


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