The decision to walk away from football to focus on academics can’t be easy, but that is exactly what Texas quarterback Matthew Merrick has decided. Although, in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, he did leave the door open on a possible return to the program, should an opportunity present itself.
“I had a great talk with Coach [Tim] Beck, who was willing to help me with whatever I decided to do,” Merrick said. “After discussing it with my family, I’ve decided to step away from the football team and focus on my academics at UT. If an opportunity were to present itself in the future, that’s something that I would consider, but for now, I believe it’s best to strengthen my academics as much as possible. I want to thank all my teammates, the staff, Coach Beck and Coach [Tom] Herman for their support, and I appreciate all the relationships I’ve built during my time with the team. I’ll always consider myself a Longhorn and will be rooting for them in the future.”
If you aren’t familiar with Merrick, that is most likely because he redshirted his true freshman year in 2015, and was buried on the depth chart last season. Merrick may have been able to earn some playing time this upcoming season, but at third on the spring depth chart behind Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger, it probably wouldn’t have been much. Still, we have seen a couple of teams in the Big 12 have to go deeper than that into their well over the last few years, so you never know.
And that is what makes Merrick’s decision that much more respectable. On the cusp of possibly realizing his dream, he has decided to make the responsible decision and get his academics in order.
As for the Longhorns, the loss of Merrick hurts their depth, but coach Tom Herman has also spoken highly of sophomore walk-on Josh Covey. Let’s not forget that Jerrod Heard is still walking around campus, and while coach Herman has said Heard will remain a receiver this season, that could always change if need be. That’s something we will just have to wait and see, but in the meantime, good luck to Merrick in his future endeavors and hopefully he can make his way back onto the team at some point.