There will be a number of significant quarterback battles going on this spring and into the following summer and fall for a variety of reasons. Some quarterbacks used up their eligibility and some declared for the NFL Draft. Others, just didn’t get the job done and still others have some impressive young competitors to deal with. For whatever reasons, these are some of the schools that will have fun and important quarterback competition.
The spring could bring about some changes and some new faces, but as of now this looks like the situation at these schools:
Alabama: Jalen Hurts has been a two year starter at Alabama causing most of the other quarterbacks on the roster to transfer and try to find a place to play. The Crimson Tide staff went to the beautiful state of Hawaii to sign a 5 star quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts has not been popular with the fan base, but always the most popular man in town is the back up quarterback. Tagovailoa is a talent that can run and pass, but Hurts is no slouch. He’s won games for Alabama with his feet, but his passing is at times erratic. Alabama was struggling in the national championship game when they insert Tagovailoa who led them back to win the game. Fans will want Tagovailoa,
but they don’t make the decisions. Plus, a lot of them are loopy, anyway, just read any football message boards.
Tagovailoa probably earns the starting position because he’s just too good to keep off the field, so where does that leave Hurts?
The only other scholarship quarterback they have is Mac Jones from Jacksonville Bolles.
Ohio State: In Columbus, J.T. Barrett has finally used up his eligibility. Dwayne Haskins was the back up last season and he probably has the strongest arm of any of the competitors for his replacement. Haskins has been pretty accurate in limited action and he can fling it. He has to be the frontrunner as of now.
But, don’t rule out Joe Burrow who has even less experience than Haskins. But, Burrow has some skills as well. The dark horse in this race is redshirt freshman Tate Martell. One of the hottest recruits in the country a couple of classes back and he’s never lost a game that he’s started. The positive side is his athleticism, quickness and arm, but on the negative side, Martell is small. Can he hold up in a college spread offense is the question.
Clemson: This one could be tricky, with Kelly Bryant returning. Bryant can run and he can throw the shorter passes well, but he struggles with the deep ball. He was exposed pretty well in the playoffs. Enter true freshman Trevor Lawrence who is the highest rated drop back passer in the history of the rating systems. Anyone that has seen him play comes away really impressed. He is 6-6, 210 and can really hum the football. Surprisingly, he can really run as well. Lawrence is a guy that could be too good to keep off the field. But, don’t forget about Hunter Johnson who was the top quarterback recruit in the country from the previous recruiting class. Johnson played sparingly as a Chase Brice, who is a former 4 star recruit out of Georgia.
true freshman. He has his own share of talent and could play just about anywhere. Not to be left out is redshirt freshman
Georgia: Jake Fromm was sensational as a true freshman and that’s not likely to change. The Bulldogs have a good problem with young play maker Justin Fields coming in. Fields is the dual threat equivalent to Trevor Lawrence, and together they are the best two quarterbacks these eyes have seen in the same class, as in ever. Fromm would be hard to bench after the season he had last year, but like Lawrence again it will be hard to keep Fields off of the field.
Florida State: With the departure of Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles hired Willie Taggart away from Oregon. Deondre Francois started at quarterback in 2016 as a redshirt freshman and was the returning starter in 2017. But, he was injured in the Seminole’s first game against Alabama and lost for the season. His replacement was true freshman James Blackman. Straight out of high school, the tall and gangly Blackman had his problems. He was listed as 6-5, 169 which is skinny even for a basketball player. Blackman came on and improved as the season progressed and in the off season he has supposedly already gained almost 20 pounds. Francois is definitely a better runner, or was, and Blackman may have the bigger upside. With Fisher gone, it all falls on Taggart to decide which quarterback is better for his offense. Francois may win the job back, but Blackman impressed with his determination and toughness. The only other quarterback on the roster, presently is Bailey Hockman and he redshirted last season. In Taggart’s first recruiting class at Florida State, he did not bring in one quarterback and that should be a priority next year.
Miami: The Canes return quarterback Malik Rosier who I like, but the fans don’t seem thrilled. Rosier has done his time and had a decent season last year which would have been better if his best receiver hadn’t become stone hands suddenly. Rosier still threw for well over 3,000 yards and run for nearly 500 yards. The fans love redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry even if he’s never played a down. As they say, again, the most popular guy on the team is the back up quarterback. However, that said, Perry is just oozing with potential on his 6-4, 185 frame. Also, redshirt freshman Cade Weldon will be in the mix. The son of former Seminole great Casey Weldon, Cade was only a 3 star in high school, but he has some ability. He’s probably behind Rosier and Perry in the pecking order. A surprise in the Miami quarterback race is true freshman Jarren Williams. It was an amazing year for
quarterbacks in the state of Georgia this past year, probably the best ever with Lawrence, Fields, Williams and Emory Jones are about as good as it gets. Williams was a highly rated dual threat quarterback and he could figure in on the quarterback battle.
Oklahoma State: Mason Rudolph used up his eligibility and moved on to the NFL. Senior Taylor Cornelius is next in line to take over as the Cowboy quarterback and has backed up Rudolph the past couple of years. Keondre Wudtee played a little as a freshman and will compete for the job and he’s definitely not lacking in ability and potential. Another factor in the race could be their top recruit from this year’s class, Spencer Sanders who is a talented dual threat prospect from Denton, Texas and Ryan High School. Coach Mullet, otherwise known as Mike Gundy, seems to always get the best out of his quarterback.
Texas: Fans in Austin have been unhappy with the quarterback situation since Colt McCoy graduated. Two years ago, Shane Buechele came in as a true freshman and took over as the starter. This past year, Sam Ehlinger came in and started as a true freshman. Both are back, plus two more freshmen in Californian Cameron Rising and Oklahoma native Casey Thompson. Both of these freshmen are early enrollees and already competing. Ehlinger probably has the lead going into the spring, but Rising is a talented passer and Thompson is a top dual threat quarterback. This race has a
ways to go and I would not be surprised if a freshman is the starting quarterback for the third year in a row.
Notre Dame: Brandon Wimbush returns after starting most of 2017. He’s a really strong runner and is built more like a fullback at 6-1, 230, but is not completely devoid of throwing ability as some would have us believe. Ian Book is eager to take over the job and is also a talented athlete. As always, the second team quarterback is the most popular guy in town and that’s also true in this situation. True freshman Phil Jurkovic is a 6-6, 205 potential super star from Pennsylvania who is equipped with a howitzer for an arm. He probably won’t be ready as a true freshman and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a young kid. But, he looks like he could possibly be the future in South Bend.
USC: Redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold declared for the NFL leaving the Trojans needing a signal caller and quickly. Matt Fink backed up Darnold last year and is the only player with any experience at all. But, he’s only thrown 9 passes during his redshirt freshman season. Fink is a better runner than Darnold, but can he pass as well? That, we don’t know. Redshirt freshman Jack Sears is from the same school as Darnold and many think he’s just as good. Time will tell, but Sears was a highly rated quarterback coming in. The player that may wind up winning the starting job is incoming freshman J.T. Daniels. But, Daniels should still be going into his senior year of high school, so he is going to be young and inexperienced. But, Daniels is really good.
UCLA: Chip Kelly arrives on the scene and he will rile up the Pac 12. The Bruins lost Josh Rosen who declared for the NFL, but sophomore quarterback Devon Modster might be a type of athlete at the position that Kelly can work with. Plus, he got plenty of playing time last season due to Rosen’s fragility. Matt Lynch is the only other quarterback with any experience at all, but the Bruins also have scholarship quarterback Austin Burton who is an incoming freshman. Kelly has his work cut out for him at UCLA and will need to do some serious recruiting. This could be interesting.
Arkansas: Chad Morris was hired as their new coach away from SMU where he had his team trending upwards. The Razorbacks will score a lot of points, but not this season. He’s going to need time to get his own players on the roster. Giant quarterback Cole Kelley returns and the 6-7, 265
Kelley is more mobile than you’d think and he’s got a big time arm.
But, Morris may have some other options as in Ty Storey who was the back up quarterback in the 2016 season and redshirt freshman Daulton Hyatt and sophomore Carson Proctor or recruits Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones. Jones is a winner having won 2 state championships in Texas, but the only reason he received a scholarship is his grandfather is Jerry Jones of Dallas Cowboys infamy. It’s not his fault who his grandfather is, and the kid has proven himself as a winner at the high school level. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is the same type of quarterback and he has proven himself. Give the kid a chance, but surely he redshirts.
Florida: The Gators’ offense has been inept in recent seasons and that’s being kind. They used an excuse to get rid of former coach Jim McElwain and hired successful Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen. The former Florida offensive coordinator developed such quarterbacks as Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott and coached some of the better Mississippi State teams of all time. At Florida, he has Feleipe Franks coming back and Franks was a very highly recruited quarterback coming out of high school that has the tools to be very good with the right coaching. Franks is about 6-5, 230 with good mobility and an arm if he can avoid throwing the ball to the other team. He has the potential.
Florida fans should be excited about Mullen and what he brings to the table and they needed him with Kirby Smart doing what he’s been doing at Georgia, one of their chief rivals. The SEC East could become the East again and not the Least. Coming in with the same recruiting class as Franks was Kyle Trask who is of similar build at around 6-5, 240. But, Trask lacks the mobility that Franks possesses and Trask never even started in high school. He gained notice by going to camps and he did play in high school as the designated passer, but his team ran an offense not suited to his skills at all and the running quarterback was also awarded a scholarship.
The Gators also have former St Thomas Aquinas quarterback Jake Allen who is talented, but maybe not so much the right fit for Mullen’s offense.
The best news for Gator fans might be the signing of very talented Georgia recruit Emory Jones. The Outstanding prospect had been committed to Ohio State for a long time, but switched over to Florida right before signing day. Jones was one of the members of the fantastic group of super talented Georgia quarterback recruits and he should be a challenge for the starting spot either this year, or the next. Emory Jones might be the future at quarterback for Dan Mullen and the Gators.
LSU: Speaking of inept offenses, the Tigers have been struggling to find production at quarterback for quite a while. The Purdue transfer, Danny Etling, actually played pretty well last season. But, now he is gone and despite the coaching staff knowing he was a senior they failed to sign a quarterback in their latest recruiting class.
It’s going to come down to one of three players unless you consider a transfer from Tennessee Tech. Sophomore Myles Brennan probably holds the edge going in because he played a little bit as a true freshman. Redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse could give him some competition, or become his back up. Another quarterback option might be junior Justin McMillan, but he’s already had his chances to make a move and he’s running out of time. The transfer is Andre Sale, but we may have to wait and see if he has any shot at all of competing. The LSU Tigers should have a defense again in 2018, but the offense could be pitiful. The super talented running backs seem to be gone and they’ve had little luck in finding a consistent quarterback. It could be a long season before they make some changes at head coach.
Tennessee: Another really bad offense and another coach firing in the SEC. But, there’s hope in new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the former Alabama defensive coordinator. He was the choice after the Vols tried to hire quite a few new coaches and were embarrassed. But, in the end, there’s the chance that they get the last laugh because Pruitt just might have been the right choice. Time will tell, as always.
Sophomore Jarrett Guarantano returns as the guy with the most experience and started some games before. He didn’t particularly have a great season, but nobody on the Volunteers roster had a really great season. Will McBride played some as well, but completed 42.5% of his passes and that’s not acceptable in today’s game. In Pruitt’s first recruiting class, they signed J.T. Shrout from Newhall, California but he’s not likely to come in and help right away.
Guarantano seems the mostly likely to open the 2018 season as the starter, but improvements must be made.