Quinn Ewers, Arch Manning set to compete for Texas quarterback job

Quinn Ewers had some strong moments in his first year as the starting quarterback at Texas, but he isn’t guaranteed the starting job entering 2023.

That’s because there’s another five-star quarterback now on campus at UT: Arch Manning.

Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli, was the No. 1-rated recruit in the class of 2023 and has enrolled early at Texas in order to participate in spring practices.

After the first day of spring ball on Monday, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters that every position is open to competition, quarterback included.

"I'm not worried about who's going to be on the cover of what magazine next week," Sarkisian said. "I'm more focused on is if each guy is focusing on what they need to do to develop to be the best player that they can be. Quinn has an entire year of a head start, but I don't want to hold Arch back. I want to see how far he can take this thing and what it can look like."

Like Manning, Ewers was the No. 1 recruit in his class. Ewers originally was a 2022 prospect, but he reclassified to 2021 and enrolled at Ohio State. He spent just one season at OSU before returning to his home state by transferring to Texas. Ewers was verbally committed to UT before switching to Ohio State.

Ewers had an up-and-down freshman campaign. He threw for 2,177 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 58.1% of his attempts as the Longhorns went 8-5.

Sarkisian said Ewers is much more comfortable as he enters his second year in the program.

“I thought Quinn had a really good winter. He was essentially a true freshman at this time last year. There was a lot on his mind. It felt that way for him pretty much all year long. This winter, it feels natural. He’s throwing the ball well. I think he’s emerging as a leader. I think what he’s done, he’s serving for Arch and showing what it looks like and how to go about your business,” Sarkisian said.

Quinn Ewers cuts his infamous mullet

In addition to his lofty status as a recruit, Ewers received plenty of attention for sporting a mullet haircut. However, he recently cut the mullet and a reporter asked Sarkisian if that was a sign that Ewers is approaching things “more seriously.”

Sarkisian said there was no marked change in Ewers’ approach, but admitted that the two have spoken about how a person’s appearance can alter how they are perceived.

“Quinn’s a great kid. He’s a great teammate. He’s really coachable. But one thing we talked about is sometimes your appearance precedes you. And then you almost have to overcome yourself,” Sarkisian said.

"All of a sudden now the guy gets a haircut and cleans his beard up a little bit and everyone thinks Quinn's real serious right now. But that's human nature. There’s never been a question of him taking this serious. He wants to be really good. He wants to be a leader on this team. He wants to win a championship with these guys. And that doesn't change what he does day to day. But appearance is what it is. And so I do think him recognizing that shows some maturity in his approach to what he’s doing."

Arch Manning takes second-team reps in first practice

Sarkisian said the team’s passing game needs to improve from how it performed last season, particularly on third down and in the red zone. He’s hoping a healthy competition between Ewers and Manning will bring out the best in both players and ultimately raise the level of play on the field.

“That competition should ultimately drive the best out of both of them. That’s what we’re trying to create in our program at every position group. When you have that is when your level of play continually goes up and up,” Sarkisian said.

With Maalik Murphy limited by injury, Manning took second-team reps at Monday’s practice. Sarkisian said his first practice was up-and-down, as you’d expect from any freshman.

“For Arch today, Day 1, there were some plays he’d love to have back. And there’s some other plays he made where everybody was like, ‘Wow, that was a heck of a play,’ Sarkisian said. “He’s a true freshman, should still be in high school. He brings a worker’s mentality and wants to be really good at this game.”

Sarkisian has a 13-12 record (9-9 Big 12) record in two seasons at Texas. UT will open its 2023 season at home against Rice on Sept. 2.