Quarterbacks Quinn Ewers (3) and Arch Manning (16) talk during the first Texas Longhorns football practice of 2023 at the Frank Denius Fields on the University of Texas at Austin campus on Monday, March 6, 2023.

Aem Texfoot First 2023 Practice 14

Texas begins QB 2-step with Arch Manning, Quinn Ewers competition

The eyes of Texas are on the high-profile quarterback competition set to get underway as the Longhorns kick off spring practice.

2023 recruit Arch Manning arrived to the drumbeat of No. 1 recruiting rankings, the billing of a future No. 1 draft pick and an unparalleled family legacy at the position. Sophomore Quinn Ewers, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the Class of 2021 by the 247Sports composite and listed at No. 2 by ESPN, landed in Austin in 2022 after one season at Ohio State.

“I’m not worried about who’s going to be on the cover of what magazine next week,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I’m more focused on is, is each guy 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.”

Second-year quarterback Maalik Murphy also is in the running for reps in Austin.

Ewers started 10 games and had 15 touchdown passes with six interceptions last season. His offseason transformation included chopping off his mullet and trimming his facial hair, but that’s not the part of his new appearance Sarkisian is most excited about.

Sarkisian said Ewers accepted the challenge from coaches to be the vocal leader of the offense in 2023.

“I think what he’s done, he’s serving for Arch and, ‘Hey, this is what it looks like,’” Sarkisian said. “‘And this is how to go about your business.’”

The son of Cooper Manning, Arch Manning has never been a backup. He was the starting varsity quarterback as a freshman at the Isidore Newman School in New Orlean and rewrote the Louisiana high school record books by erasing the prominent names of previous record-holders — his uncles, Peyton and Eli Manning. Arch Manning owns the state marks for passing yards and touchdown passes.

A five-star recruit who enrolled early, Manning should “still be in high school,” Sarkisian reminded on Monday following Texas’ first practice of the spring. He’s just 17 and won’t be 18 until May.

While Sarkisian said he doesn’t want to use any special lens to evaluate his quarterbacks on a day-to-day basis, Sarkisian said it’s easy for outsiders to forget what it means to be a freshman.

“For Arch today, Day 1, there’s some plays for sure that he would love to have back,” Sarkisian said. “There’s some other plays that he made where I think everybody was like, ‘Wow, that was a heck of a play.’ But he brings a worker’s mentality and he wants to be really good at this game.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns defensive end Justice Finkley (1) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Davis Beville (11) during the second half at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Texas, Oklahoma reach deal to leave Big 12 in 2024

Texas and Oklahoma agreed to a $100 million fee to exit the Big 12 Conference a year earlier than their contractual obligation, meaning they will join the Southeastern Conference for the 2024-25 school year.

The Big 12 announced Thursday that the schools and the reached an agreement in principle regarding the exit fee.

“As I have consistently stated, the Conference would only agree to an early withdrawal if it was in our best interest for Oklahoma and Texas to depart prior to June 30, 2025,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. “By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning.

“I appreciate the approaches of OU President Joe Harroz and UT President Jay Hartzell to ensure an amicable conclusion to this process, and look forward to the bright days ahead for the Big 12 Conference.”

Hartzell said in a statement, in part, “We have always been committed to fulfilling our contractual obligations to the Big 12. The collegiate athletics landscape has continued to evolve rapidly, and working together to accelerate our exit produced benefits for all parties. The Big 12 has been a respected partner for nearly three decades, and we look forward to a final season of spirited competition with our friends and rivals.”

“The exciting matchups and passionate rivalries of the past quarter century will always be a celebrated part of our shared history,” Harroz added in a statement, in part. “We look forward to showcasing that intensity this season, next season and beyond.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wrote in a statement that the conference will “proceed with facilitating the transition of Oklahoma and Texas to become full members of the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2024.”

He added, “We look forward to welcoming the conference’s new members and moving into the future as a 16-team league.”

BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are set to join the Big 12 for the 2023-24 school year, giving the conference 14 teams for one season before the Longhorns and Sooners exit.

–Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns forward Christian Bishop (32) smiles as he walks past Oklahoma Sooners forward Jalen Hill (1) during an NCAA men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and Texas at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. Texas won 70-69.

Oklahoma Vs Texas Basketball

Delay of gain: Texas, Oklahoma reportedly won’t join SEC until 2025

Red River rivals Texas and Oklahoma are not headed downstream from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference until 2025 because of complex TV rights negotiations, according to multiple reports.

The planned exit to the SEC was expected to take place for the 2024 academic year and become official in July.

ESPN reported Friday morning the delay was borne out of failed negotiations that included two universities and two networks.

“Parties couldn’t come to terms amid a complex negotiation between two schools (OU/Texas), two networks (ESPN/FOX) and the Big 12,” ESPN reported.

The topic of the Sooners and Longhorns leaving was on the frontburner this week at Big 12 conference meetings, where the agenda also listed discussions about adding Gonzaga and potential further expansion.

BYU, Cincinnati and Houston are all joining the Big 12 in July, in what was expected to be the end of Texas and Oklahoma’s run in the league.

The Big 12 released its full season football schedule on Tuesday, including Texas-Oklahoma on Oct. 7.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns defensive end Justice Finkley (1) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Davis Beville (11) during the second half at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 releases football schedule for 14-team season

The 2023 Big 12 football schedule, released on Tuesday, will make for some awkward get-togethers.

While BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are joining the league, Oklahoma and Texas have not yet departed for the SEC.

All 14 teams will play nine conference games, starting Sept. 16 when newcomer Houston hosts TCU, the 2022 College Football Playoff runner-up and a former Southwest Conference rival.

Texas will face just two of the Big 12’s newest entries, and the games will come back-to-back. The Longhorns will visit Houston Oct. 21 and host BYU Oct. 28

Oklahoma, meanwhile, will open its Big 12 schedule by visiting Cincinnati Sept. 23. The Sooners will later host UCF Oct. 21 and travel to BYU Nov. 18.

The annual Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is set for Oct. 7 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

A rematch of last season’s Big 12 championship game, between TCU and equally surprising Kansas State, will be Oct. 21 in Manhattan, Kan.

Oklahoma State is slated to host Oklahoma on Nov. 4 in the Bedlam series matchup.

Oklahoma and Texas will join the SEC in either 2024 or 2025. The two bluebloods’ decision to jump ship prompted the Big 12 to invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, some of the most successful athletic programs from outside the power conferences.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) celebrates against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Texas lands transfer WR Adonai Mitchell

Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell is transferring to Texas for the 2023 season after winning back-to-back national championships with Georgia.

A native of Missouri City, Texas, he announced the move Friday night on social media, and Texas confirmed the transfer on Saturday.

Mitchell becomes the 28th member of the Longhorns’ 2023 class, which is highlighted by quarterback Arch Manning, the No. 1 overall player, per the 247Sports composite. A junior, Mitchell will enroll for the spring semester.

He played in 21 games (15 starts) at Georgia, making 38 catches for 560 yards and seven touchdowns.

Out most of the season with a high ankle sprain, he returned to make the game-winning touchdown catch in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Ohio State — repeating his feat against Alabama in the national championship game following the 2021 season.

Mitchell also caught a 22-yard touchdown against TCU in this year’s championship game.

Texas was looking to add a big-play receiver. Only two of its top six pass catchers in 2022 — Jordan Whittington and Xavier Worthington — caught a double-digit number of passes.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  Washington Huskies running back Wayne Taulapapa (21) cuts back in front of Texas Longhorns defensive back Jahdae Barron during the first half in the 2022 Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Washington hangs on to beat No. 20 Texas in Alamo Bowl

Michael Penix Jr. passed for 287 yards and two second-half touchdowns and No. 12 Washington dominated the line of scrimmage throughout on the way to a 27-20 win over short-handed No. 20 Texas on Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Huskies (11-2) posted their first 11-plus-win season since 2016 and just the fifth in program history. Washington, which finished 4-8 in 2021, played in its first bowl game since 2019.

Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 108 yards, including a 42-yard first-quarter touchdown, on 14 carries for the Huskies.

Quinn Ewers passed for 369 yards and one touchdown for Texas (8-5). Casey Cain had four catches for 106 yards and Xavier Worthy had seven catches for 84 yards but dropped two deep balls in the third quarter.

Bert Auburn booted a 26-yard field goal with 1:40 to play to bring Texas to within one score, after which the Huskies recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Longhorns got the ball back with 31 seconds remaining but could not muster any magic.

The Longhorns played without their top two running backs, All-American and Doak Walker Award winner Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, both of whom opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.

The Huskies struck first Thursday, utilizing a short field provided by a blocked punt by Edefuan Ulofoshio to produce a 46-yard field goal by Peyton Henry with 11:44 to play in the opening quarter. Texas answered on a 30-yard field goal from Auburn that tied the game four minutes later.

Taulapapa ripped off his long scoring run on Washington’s next possession to cap a 10-play, 88-yard march. The score remained unchanged until a 24-yard field goal by Henry on the final play of a surprisingly defensive first half that ended with the Huskies up 13-3.

The Longhorns got back in the game on their first possession of the third quarter when Jonathon Brooks caught a screen pass from Ewers and sprinted 34 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-10.

Penix put Washington back in front by 10 points with a 6-yard scoring pass to Taj Davis with 6:44 to play in the third. He then engineered a 14-play, 90-yard drive that was capped off by an 8-yard TD pass to Jalen McMillan (who made an amazing shoestring catch) to push the Huskies’ lead to 27-10 with 13:08 remaining.

Texas responded with a 3-yard touchdown run by Brooks to cap an 11-play, 74-yard march to get back to within 27-17.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson (2) runs for yards during the first half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas backup RB Roschon Johnson declares for draft

Texas running back Roschon Johnson said Friday that he is declaring for the NFL Draft.

Johnson also opted out of the Alamo Bowl matchup against No. 12 Washington on Thursday.

Johnson’s declaration comes four days after Longhorns star Bijan Robinson entered the draft. Robinson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns.

So instead of an opportunity to shine in Robinson’s absence, Johnson also won’t be on the field for the No. 20 Longhorns. He rushed for 554 yards and five touchdowns this season.

“… To Longhorn Nation, thank you. I want you guys to know I gave this university all of me, even if it wasn’t seemingly the most convenient thing to do,” Johnson said in his announcement on social media. “I devoted myself in every way possible to get this university back on the pedestal it should be at. Your support did not go unnoticed, and for that I thank you.

“With that being said I have decided to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft and will opt out of the Alamo Bowl on December 29th. I am excited to embark on a new chapter in my life and plan on fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing professional football. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I thank you all for everything.”

Johnson rushed for 2,190 yards and 23 touchdowns in 47 games over four seasons with the Longhorns. He originally was a quarterback when he chose Texas but switched to running back shortly before the 2019 season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) reacts after running in to the end zone for touchdown during the first half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Washington, No. 20 Texas ready to light up Alamo Bowl

No. 12 Washington and No. 20 Texas look to move closer to a return to national prominence when they square off Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The contest pits two of the nation’s best offenses, although the Longhorns will be depleted on that side of the ball. Two of their top running backs — consensus All-American and Doak Walker Award winner Bijan Robinson and key backup Roschon Johnson — have both opted out.

Texas (8-4) won three of its last four games, including a 38-27 home win over Baylor in its regular-season finale on Nov. 25. The only loss in that stretch was 17-10 against College Football Playoff participant TCU on Nov. 12.

After missing the postseason in 2021 in coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year with the Longhorns, Texas had a bounce-back season. The Longhorns’ four losses this year were by a combined 18 points.

“We didn’t get to go to a bowl game last year, we didn’t earn it,” Sarkisian said. “It’s great that the team gets this experience against a really good opponent. You’re always looking for ways to continue to develop your players. It’s a win-win for us.”

Texas still has plenty of firepower, with freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers triggering the attack and All-Big 12 honorees Xavier Worthy and Ja’Tavion Sanders his primary targets.

The 2022 Alamo Bowl marks the 58th all-time bowl appearance for the Longhorns, the third-most in the country behind only Alabama and Georgia. Texas owns a bowl record of 31-24-2.

The Huskies (10-2) are riding a six-game winning streak, including a 51-33 Apple Cup victory at Washington State on Nov. 26 to close out the regular season. Washington is making its first bowl appearance since the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl.

Head coach Kalen DeBoer led the Huskies back to the postseason and an improvement of six wins in his first year in Seattle. Washington’s 10 wins were the most ever at the school under a first-year head coach.

“We’re at the point now with this year’s team where we feel that we can play with anyone. We really do,” DeBoer said. “We feel like we’re that championship-caliber football team, without a doubt. We respect all and fear none. That’s really been something that’s resonated with our guys, and the belief we have that we are that team and we are capable of that.”

The Huskies are led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who finished eighth in this year’s Heisman balloting. Penix has had a remarkable campaign, going the second half of this season as the nation’s top passer and finishing with 4,354 yards through the air. He heads into the Alamo Bowl just 104 yards shy of the Washington single-season passing yards record.

The Alamo Bowl will be the Huskies’ 41st bowl appearance.

Texas and Washington have played four times, with the Longhorns owning a 3-1 all-time record. The programs last met in 2001 at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, where Texas overcame a 19-point deficit en route to a 47-43 victory.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs the ball during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Texas RB Bijan Robinson to skip bowl, enter draft

Texas running back Bijan Robinson announced Monday he is skipping the Alamo Bowl and entering the NFL draft.

Robinson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back in 2022 after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and added 19 catches for 314 yards and two TDs.

“I’ve done everything that I tried to do in God’s plan for me while I’ve been here,” Robinson told reporters Monday. “It’s time to start the new journey. I’m just excited to figure out another part of my life, just like I tried to figure it out here.”

Robinson ranks fourth in Longhorns history with 3,410 career rushing yards, trailing Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Earl Campbell.

The 6-foot, 220-pound junior from Tucson, Ariz., was ranked last week as the No. 1 running back in the 2023 draft class by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

No. 20 Texas (8-4) faces No. 12 Washington (10-2) in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl at San Antonio.

–Field Level Media

Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of the Texas Longhorns helmet logo during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star LB, former A&M pledge Anthony Hill commits to Texas

Anthony Hill, a five-star linebacker prospect who decommitted from Texas A&M last month, announced Thursday he instead will play his college football at Texas.

Hill, from Ryan High School in Denton, Texas, is ranked as the No. 1 linebacker and the No. 19 overall prospect in the Class of 2023 by the 247Sports composite.

Hill committed to Texas A&M in July before reopening his recruitment in November. The Aggies lost six straight games and finished 5-7, and a few highly-rated recruits decommitted from the program.

Southern California was among the other schools in the mix for Hill’s services. He’d also visited the likes of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Texas landed its second five-star commitment of the class, joining quarterback Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning.

–Field Level Media