Hudson Card: Austin’s next Longhorn QB1

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as part of the September 3 Double Coverage flipbook.

One of the many reasons former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger endeared himself so easily to Longhorn fans was thanks to his local roots as a Westlake High School product. With Ehlinger’s departure to the NFL, Hudson Card is Texas’ next signal caller tasked with carrying on the legacy of Austin-raised Longhorn quarterbacks.

Card, a redshirt freshman, hails from Lake Travis High School, Westlake’s rival Austin quarterback factory. While the longstanding rivalry between the two schools on Friday nights is heated, Card set aside their differences to learn from Ehlinger’s example during the one year their times at Texas overlapped.

“I saw the way Sam prepared his body in the training room, to film, to extra work,” Card told Inside Texas in early August. “Really, (it’s) the preparation and everything that comes along behind the scenes that no one sees that really pushes you to the next level.”

Card appears to have done enough work behind the scenes in Steve Sarkisian’s eyes. Texas’ newly acquired head coach recently named Card the starting quarterback over junior Casey Thompson.

“Hudson’s earned the right to be the starter,” Sarkisian told reporters Monday, while noting that Thompson would also take snaps in Saturday’s game.

How much of a rotation the two quarterbacks make remains to be seen. To Ehlinger though, Card has a natural athletic ability, so much so that the redshirt freshman received several scholarships as a wide receiver before making a seamless transition to the quarterback position at Lake Travis. Ehlinger recalled being wowed by Card’s effortless ability to throw perfect spirals in practice.

“Hudson’s just a special player, there’s really no other way to put it,” Ehlinger said in February during a media availability before the NFL Draft. “There were often times in practice (when) I was watching him throw, and I’m like ‘Gosh darn it, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I spin it the way he can?’”

Card’s special ability to sling the ball earned him the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback ranking in the nation’s 2020 recruiting class. With a full year of development under his belt watching Ehlinger thrive combined with Thompson’s four-touchdown performance at the 2020 Alamo Bowl, Card was ready to battle for the starting job.

The competition spanned all offseason as neither Card nor Thompson separated themselves from the other toward the starting position. Reports eventually began to circulate that Card had gained the edge toward the end of camp, with Sarkisian finally confirming his decision to name Card the starter on Monday.

A key part of being a successful starting quarterback is gaining a team’s trust. After all, the quarterback is the leader of the offense. Every decision post-snap is up to the man under center, and every other offensive player must trust that whoever takes the snap will be capable of deciphering the right decisions and executing upon them well.

“Clearly, he’s got to drive the car on the field and get people aligned,” Sarkisian said Thursday. “I do think we’ve got a great deal of leadership on our team that is there for one another, and the quarterback would be no different.”

That responsibility can be overwhelming to a young player, but according to senior offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter, Card has earned the trust of his offense. Now he just has to trust himself.

“He’s really just come into his own this year and I’m excited to see his progression throughout the season,” Kerstetter said. “It’s been fun to watch a guy that’s from the Austin area come in and just be excited about being at the University of Texas and play his butt off.”