Quinn Ewers will finally make his much-anticipated starting debut this week after a winding recruitment that saw him skip a year of high school, get lost in Ohio State’s depth chart and, finally, transfer to Texas.
Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed Aug. 19 that Ewers had beaten out Hudson Card to be the team’s starting quarterback, albeit in a strange manner. That sets up Ewers, the top overall recruit in both the 2021 and 2022 classes, to finally put his pedigree to the test at the college level.
Ewers has taken the long road to get to this point. He initially was expected to beat out then-redshirt freshman CJ Stroud for Ohio State’s starting QB position in 2021, but he lagged behind on the depth chart. That is part of the reason why he transferred back to his home state.
Of course, there is more to Ewers’ decision to come to Texas. The opportunity to play close to home — and for one of the nation’s premier offensive-minded coaches — undoubtedly played a role as well.
MORE: Top transfer players who can contribute on new teams in 2022
The Sporting News looks at Ewers’ decision to transfer to Texas and why he didn’t commit to play for the Longhorns from the start.
Why did Quinn Ewers transfer from Ohio State?
Although Ewers never explicitly explained his decision to leave Ohio State, it stands to reason that he left the program because he couldn’t beat Stroud, a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Indeed, Ewers was only credited with two plays at Ohio State in 2021, both handoffs. By the end of the season, it was obvious the No. 1 overall recruit wasn’t going to beat substitute Stroud, who completed 71.9 percent of his passes for 4,435 and 44 touchdowns to six interceptions.
Ewers decided to transfer and reportedly had his sights set on three possible destinations: Texas A&M, Texas Tech and, of course, Texas.
Why did Quinn Ewers transfer to Texas?
Ultimately, Ewers settled on the team he grew up rooting for: the Longhorns, to whom he was committed for a short period in late 2020.
Here’s Ewers explaining in his first media appearance for the school why he went with the burnt orange:
Got our first chance to talk with new Texas QB Quinn Ewers this morning pic.twitter.com/m3TQldWQGt
— Travis Recek (@TravisRecek) April 14, 2022
“I grew up always watching the Longhorns play, wanting to be in that burnt orange,” Ewers said in April. “There was a little obstacle in between, but I ended up here and I’m very thankful for all the opportunities God has given me.
“I’m just excited to be back in the home state. Coach Sarkisian once told me, ‘That’s why the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big.’ You kind of put the past behind you and focus on what’s ahead, and I’m super excited about what’s ahead, for sure.”
At the end of the day, I just wanted to be closer to my family and friends and stuff like that.
Austin is a three-hour drive from Ewers’ hometown of Southlake, Texas, compared to 16 hours to Columbus, Ohio.
MORE: What Ewers’ transfer means for the Longhorns in 2022
That said, Ewers has more than proximity going for him. Despite a lackluster 5-7 record in Year 1 in Austin, Sarkisian is one of the game’s best offensive minds and should be able to get the most out of Ewers.
The Texas coach has had a hand in developing a who’s who of quarterbacks, including Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC (as well as future NFL players Mark Sanchez, John David Booty and Matt Cassel with the Trojans); and Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones at Alabama.
Why did Quinn Ewers enroll early at Ohio State?
Ewers’ decision to skip his senior season at Carroll High School in Southlake raised eyebrows. The No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 class decided to reclassify to the 2021 class, where he remained atop the recruiting service rankings.
Why did Ewers enroll early, and why did the one-time Longhorns commit forgo the hometown team in favor of Ohio State?
The reason is twofold.
First and foremost, Ewers wanted to capitalize on the NCAA’s recently enacted rule that allowed athletes to make money from NIL deals. The second part was Texas’ mercurial coaching situation.
MORE: Quinn Ewers could change NIL, Ohio State and more with decision
The Texas Legislature had passed a law prohibiting high school players from enjoying those newfound privileges. That was a big reason Ewers decided to leave school early, as he mentioned in his announcement.
— Quinn Ewers (@QuinnEwers) August 2, 2021
Ewers reportedly signed an NIL deal worth $1.4 million at Ohio State.
Texas’ law would not have applied to Ewers had he enrolled in Austin, so the decision to play for the Buckeyes likely was unrelated to NIL deals, or was only tangentially related.
Ewers already had decommitted from the Longhorns in October 2020 after initially committing that August. The decision made sense at the time considering Ohio State coach Ryan Day — in just his third full season — was already a well-known offensive mind with a propensity for developing quarterbacks.
Texas fired Tom Herman following a 7-3 season and a win in the Alamo Bowl. Even news of the firing — and the university’s hiring of Sarkisian — was not enough to sway Ewers and prevent him from enrolling at Ohio State.
“I’ve heard the news,” Ewers said of Herman’s firing in January 2021 (via the Austin American-Statesman). “I’m rocking with my guys at Ohio State. Obviously, success comes into account and they’ve had a lot of success. I want to be a part of something like that.
“I’ve visited with Sark a few times just to chop it up,” Ewers said. “He’s a cool guy.”
How does Arch Manning affect Quinn Ewers at Texas?
Ewers may have beaten out Card for the Longhorns’ starting quarterback position, but he will have to show he can maintain the position this season. He will, in fact, need to put a stranglehold on the QB1 spot this year if he wants to feel comfortable in 2023.
That’s because Arch Manning, the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2023 class, has already committed to Texas. The nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning — and grandson of Archie Manning — is one of the most anticipated recruits in recent memory.
If Ewers can hold onto his job at Texas like Stroud did at Ohio State, then Arch Manning’s arrival should not be a big concern for Ewers. The best-case scenario for Texas fans is for Ewers to put together two years of tape as a starter, the second of which will allow Manning to ease into college as a freshman.
MORE: With Arch Manning headed to Texas, what does that mean for former Quinn Ewers?
Otherwise, Ewers will find himself in another battle come next season. Whether he can maintain control of the position remains to be seen. But for now, he is the player in control of Sarkisian’s offense at Texas.
Even if he took the long way to get there.