Gilbert throws three TDs in scrimmage
Can he lead Texas to the national championship?
"I think so because he's been around and played a lot," Brown said Sunday after Gilbert was 10 of 13 passing for 165 yards and three touchdowns in Texas' annual spring scrimmage. "We don't want it all on Garrett's shoulders, but I think the fact that he played in the one this year will help him next year."
Gilbert was still a freshman sitting behind senior Colt McCoy when he was thrust into last season's BCS championship game against Alabama after McCoy got hurt on Texas' first drive.
Texas lost 37-21 and Gilbert was shaky in the first half. It was his strong second half -- including two touchdown passes to Jordan Shipley that rallied Texas to within 24-21 -- that told the Longhorns they had the right guy for their future.
Gilbert won't get his first start until Sept. 4 against Rice, but his teammates say he's already taking over as the team leader.
"It's his team now," senior offensive tackle Kyle Hix said. "In the national championship game, he came in there and established himself as the leader of the offense."
On his final series, Gilbert fired a rocket of a pass toward the sideline that Hales snagged over a defender's shoulder. On the next play, Gilbert threw a soft sideline pass that dropped right to Newton in stride for a touchdown.
Gilbert came to Texas with plenty of physical talent. He's among the Texas career high school passing leaders and won two state championships before signing with the Longhorns as one of the top recruits in the country.
Now he's taking over for McCoy, who won an NCAA record 45 games as a starter and was twice a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Gilbert said he's growing as a leader.
"Leadership was a goal of mine going into the spring," he said.
He'll have to do more before August training camp. It will be his job to take command of summer passing drills when NCAA rules prohibit the coaches from being around.
Gilbert was jokingly asked if he'd like to win 45 games.
"There's not enough time for that," he said.
On Sunday, Texas put Gilbert under center more than McCoy was most of his career. The Longhorns are trying to boost a running game that was unreliable at best last season. Fozzy Whittaker led all rushers with 42 yards on 11 carries.
The new formations set up better play-action passing for Gilbert than the shotgun did for McCoy. Several of Gilbert's longest passes came off play-action passes.
"I was pretty excited about our offenses today," Gilbert said.
The Longhorns are definitely excited about him.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press