This time last month, he was firmly entrenched as Texas’ starting quarterback. Now, Garrett Gilbert is leaving the Longhorn football program.
The embattled junior quarterback has elected to transfer after a little more than two seasons at Texas. Gilbert was 7-7 as the Longhorns starter and threw for 3,301 yards, 13 touchdowns and 23 interceptions while at Texas. But after getting replaced against BYU after throwing first-quarter interceptions and undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery 10 days later, Gilbert announced Wednesday that he had taken his last snap at Texas. He has received an unconditional release from his scholarship but has not decided where he will transfer.
“This was a very difficult decision because I love the University of Texas and have had a great time playing there,” Gilbert said. “I can’t thank all of my teammates and everyone at Texas enough for all of their support.”
Gilbert won a four-man competition for the starting quarterback job this offseason, beating out sophomore Case McCoy, freshman David Ash and freshman Connor Wood, who has since transferred to the University of Colorado.
He went 13-for-23 for 239 yards and a touchdown in Texas’ season opening win over Rice but could only lead the Longhorns offense to one first down in five drives a week later against BYU. Gilbert was replaced by McCoy in the second quarter and did not play at all when Texas faced UCLA.
“We talked about his decision, and we all fully support him,” head coach Mack Brown said. “Garrett is a terrific young man, and we are very appreciative of everything he has done for our program. Whatever school he decides to go to will get a guy who will work as hard as anyone and compete both on the field and in the classroom.”
Although he has not chosen a new destination yet, Gilbert was reportedly in Dallas on Wednesday morning watching a Southern Methodist University practice. Gilbert, who will continue to take classes at Texas this fall, could fit in well at SMU.
Griffin Gilbert, his younger brother, is a high school senior and will be playing in nearby Fort Worth when he suits up for Texas Christian University next year, and SMU head coach June Jones runs an offense that showcases its quarterback, allowing him to throw 30-40 times per game. Should Gilbert eventually enroll at SMU, he would face his brother when the Mustangs play TCU on Sept. 29 next season.
“I just think I’m at a point in my life where I need a fresh start,” Gilbert said. “I’m excited to focus on getting my shoulder back to 100 percent and to decide where my next step will be, but I will always be thankful for my opportunity at Texas and be pulling for all of my friends and family in the Longhorns’ program.”
A two-time state champion at Lake Travis, Gilbert was one of the most highly touted players coming out of high school in 2009, checking in as the second-best quarterback prospect, according to Rivals.com and ESPN.
He spent most of his freshman season backing up Colt McCoy, but after the all-American went down with a stinger in the 2010 national title game against the University of Alabama.
Gilbert stepped in for his first meaningful playing time as a Longhorn and delivered two touchdown passes to Jordan Shipley, bringing the Longhorns to within three points of the Crimson Tide in the fourth quarter. But Gilbert committed turnovers on each of Texas’ final three possessions, and Alabama triumphed 37-21.
Because of the promise he showed in that game, expectations were high for Gilbert and his team coming into the 2010 season as Texas found itself among the top five teams in the preseason polls. But the Longhorns posted a 5-7 record, their first losing season since 1997, with Gilbert throwing 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
After a tumultuous beginning to his junior season, Gilbert is done at Texas. Whether he will be remembered for his valiant effort against Alabama or for a poor 2010 season remains to be seen.
Printed on October 6, 2011 as: Former Longhorn quarterback to transfer