Injury-riddled Ash deserved better at Texas

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David Ash has far exceded his 2011 totals this season, passing for 2354 yards, 17 touchdwons and five interceptions with two regular season games remaining in Texas’ season.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

When David Ash committed to play at Texas in February 2010, he wasn’t expected to leave much of a legacy as a Longhorn.

Garrett Gilbert, former Gatorade Player of the Year, had just held his own after being forced into duty against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game and was supposed to be the quarterback of the future at Texas.

Ash didn’t even crack the ESPN150 coming out of high school, and many figured he might not play at all, even before Mack Brown found another top quarterback to step in after Gilbert.

Unfortunately for Longhorn fans, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

By the time Ash arrived on campus, Gilbert’s Longhorn career was in shambles and the Texas football program was coming off its worst season since 1997. Ash wound up playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, and, by week seven, he was the starter.

Fast forward a few seasons, and Ash has started 22 games, attempted over 600 passes and thrown for 4728 yards and 31 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he’s also had more head injuries — three — than he’s played in bowl games — two.

Three was apparently one too many for Ash, as concussion symptoms forced the Belton native to end his football career last week.

Ash met with the media for the first time since retiring this week, and the always-stoic leader showed an emotional side some had never seen before.

“The last couple weeks have been hard,” Ash said. “I’ve met my quota for crying for like the next ten
years probably.” 

In spite of the inevitable disappointment that comes with having a career cut short, Ash appears to be handling the challenging situation with grace. As always, he has been thankful for God’s presence in his life, but he has also been very appreciative of all the support he has received from people in his life.

“Throughout this whole process, there’s been so many people reach out to me and encourage me,” Ash said. “I want those people to know that that really does matter, and it really did affect me in a tremendous way.”

Some will remember Ash as the quarterback who couldn’t lead Texas beyond mediocrity while others might think of him as the guy who made the most of a tough situation. Either way, it’s tough to question his perseverance.

He took over as the face of the Longhorn football program when it was at rock bottom, and through all the ups and downs, Ash has always kept a level head.

Sure, he may have never beaten Oklahoma and no, he didn’t lead Texas to one of the BCS games that Longhorn Nation had become so accustomed to in the 2000s. But, given all the injuries he suffered and the turmoil that existed within the program throughout his career, Ash’s time in burnt orange could perhaps best be defined by one word: persistence.

“I want [people] to remember the good plays and not the bad ones,” Ash said. “But I want what I stand for to stick out more than my abilities. I would like people to remember me for what’s on the inside — for my character, for my faith.”

An unfortunate series of events led to the start of David Ash’s career, and an equally unfortunate series of events led to its end. But, what happened in between was anything but unfortunate. Ash led with class and character as a quarterback at Texas, and that will be his legacy.