This is the 4th in Collegefootballcrazy.com’s series on the probable starting Quarterbacks at each Power 5 Conference schools. Next is the Big 12.
Illinois: Wes Lunt returns at Quarterback 6-5, 225 he threw for 2,761 and 4 TDs. Backed up by sophomore to be Chayce Crouch the 6-4, 225 passer from Ohio is slightly more mobile than Lunt. In the 2015 recruiting class, the Illini brought in 2 Quarterbacks. Hometown boy, Jimmy Fitzgerald decided to stay home when he signed with Illinois. He is listed as a pocket passer, but he’s more of a spread type of Quarterback with a good arm and he can get that first down with his feet.
The most intriguing prospect of the two is Jeff George Jr. Obviously, he is the son of former Illinois great Jeff George who played 13 seasons in the NFL. The dad was really good in college, and fair in the NFL.
Lunt is a senior and should keep his job.
Indiana: The Hoosiers lost 6-6, 240 Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who should get a shot at the NFL next season. But, they signed 6-6, 240 Richard Lagow from Plano, Texas by way of Cisco Junior College. Lagow is a 3 star recruit, but I have no idea why. He reminds a little bit of Paxton Lynch. He has a super strong arm and he is very mobile for his size. Kevin Wilson and Indiana might be the ideal location for Lagow who has been around a little after signing with UConn of high school. Lagow could be one of the bigger surprises in the Big 10 next season, that is if he can beat returning back up Zander Diamont. I wrote about Diamont this past season: Zander
The kid has the heart of a lion, but he’s a different type of Quarterback altogether than Sudfeld, or Lagow.
Danny Cameron is the son of LSU Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron and the former Indiana head coach. He was 3rd team last year and played against Penn State after Sudfeld was unable to play and Diamont was knocked out of the game. Austin King was a member of the 2015 class and redshirted as a true freshman. Don’t eliminate King from your thinking just because he was a 3 star recruit. He has a ton of potential.
If Indiana coach Kevin Wilson would take steps to improve his defense, the Hoosiers could be really good. His offenses are fun to watch.
Iowa: CJ Beathard will be back for his senior season in 2016, so I have heard. After being named the starter over previous starter Jake Rudock, Beathard shined in his first full season as a starter in leading the Hawkeyes to the Big 10 West championship. They were undefeated when they lost an intense battle with Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship game. Then, the Hawkeyes were beaten soundly by Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Nothing will ever really diminish the Hawkeyes 12-2 record after a few years of mediocrity.
In the I feel old department, I remember his Great Uncle Pete Beathard when he played in the NFL while his grandfather was a legend behind the scenes.
Beathard’s back up last season was freshman Tyler Wiegers who is a 6-4, 225 classic drop back passer. Ryan Boyle redshirted this past season after being signed in the 2015 recruiting class. Boyle is a different kind of Quarterback than Beathard and Wiegers. He’s a dual threat that can make plays with his feet while throwing the ball on the run.
For the 2016 signing class, the Hawkeyes have a commitment from Wisconsin Quarterback Nate Stanley who is more of a pocket passer than Boyle.
Maryland: New coach DJ Durkin inherits something of a troubled Quarterback situation. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe both played Quarterback last season and both are great athletes. The problem is both of them threw way too many Interceptions in 2015.
Another option for the Terrapins could be Shane Cockerille who played some last season.
Greg Shaffer is a member of the 2015 recruiting class and redshirted last year. He’s yet another tall Quarterback with a lot of potential. At 6-7, he has a really strong arm and is very mobile.
However, the future star at Maryland has got to be 4 star recruit Dwayne Haskins. He is under full attack from many other programs, so if the Terrapins can hang onto him he should be a star.
Durkin has his work cut out for him, but he is recruiting well already.
Michigan: Jim Harbaugh is the man and the improvement seen in Jake Rudock was pleasing to watch, but he was a senior so he the Michigan coaches must repeat just like the Alabama coaches. Rumor has it that Houston transfer John O’Korn should start next season. O’Korn threw for over 3,000 yards as a freshman in 2013. But, he was replaced and he transferred.
Wilton Speight backed up Rudock last year. Speight is 6-6, but he’s not even the tallest Quarterback on the roster with redshirt freshman Zach Gentry standing 6-7. The Wolverines signed Gentry last year along with Alex Malzone. Michigan had a commitment from Malzone before they took Gentry and he stuck with them which makes it appear as if Malzone doesn’t fear competition.
Shane Morris backed up Devin Gardner in 2013 and 2014, but he redshirted last season. Young Quarterbacks want to play for Jim Harbaugh and be the next Andrew Luck and they have a commitment from one of the nation’s best Quarterback prospects in the nation in Brandon Peters. Seeing Peters in a game as a senior, plus highlights, he is one of the more impressive prospects in the land.
The Quarterback position at Michigan has gotten really crowded and the Spring will be really interesting.
Michigan State: Three year starter Connor Cook is gone and should be picked by an NFL team. The leading candidates to replace him should be Tyler O’Connor who replaced him in their win against Ohio State. O’Connor has earned some playing time the past 3 years and is a fairly experienced senior.
Damion Terry is the better runner and athlete at the Quarterback position. But, his completion percentage was 28.6% last season.
In last year’s recruiting class, the Spartans signed 4 star Brian Lewerke from Arizona. Plus, this recruiting class they should bring in another 4 star in Messiah DeWeaver from Ohio. The Messiah is a fantastic Quarterback prospect and he could be the next big thing at Michigan State.
Next season should be O’Connor’s time, but watch out for Lewerke and DeWeaver by the end of the season or the following year.
Minnesota: Mitch Leidner should return for his senior year for the Gophers. Last season, Leidner threw for 2,701 yards and 14 Touchdowns. Sophomore Demry Croft backed up Leidner last season, but he seemed to have accuracy problems. Croft is very athletic and could be good in time.
For the 2016 recruiting class the Gophers have a commitment from Seth Green a 4 star from Allen, Texas. But, he only played in Texas one year after moving from the state of Minnesota. They also have a commitment from 3 star Kamal Martin.
Leidner will be the man next year, but the Gophers have a shot at having a really good Quarterback with Croft, Green or Martin.
Nebraska: Tommy Armstrong threw for over 3,000 yards last season and 22 Touchdowns. But, the problem for Armstrong was that he also threw 16 Interceptions. For Nebraska to get better under Mike Riley, they will need better from Armstrong. He also had 400 yards and 7 Touchdowns on the ground and he has gotten better over the years.
Ryker Fyfe has been the back up guy for a while now and is also a senior.
Bo Pelini brought in 2 Quarterbacks in his last class in Zach Darlington and A.J. Bush. They should compete with Fyfe for the back up job.
Riley didn’t bring in a Quarterback in his first class, but they have a commitment from Californian Patrick O’Brien for the 2016 class.
Mike Riley and his Huskers caught some bad breaks in his first season and they finished 6-7. He won’t last long in Lincoln, Nebraska without some improvement and rightly so.
Northwestern: The Wildcats started freshman Quarterback Clayton Thorson last year with mixed results. He was a better runner than passer with 397 rushing yards and 5 Touchdowns. Through the air, he completed 50% of his passes, but threw more Interceptions than Touchdowns.
Thorson’s back up was a senior, but Matt Alviti should be available.
Last year, the Wildcats signed Lloyd Yates and he redshirted. Aiden Smith is coming in 2016, plus Riley Lees. Both are 3 star Midwestern guys and should help provide good depth at Quarterback.
The Wildcats finished 10-3 last season which was great, but all 3 of their losses were pretty lopsided. It’s hard to go into off season with a 6-45 beating as the last game of the year. However, maybe that will motivate them for 2016.
Ohio State: I don’t remember seeing a Quarterback situation like the Buckeyes had going into the Spring of 2015. They had 3 guys returning that were talented and each was a star. Braxton Miller moved to Wide Receiver and Cardale Jones won the starting job eventually over JT Barrett. However, as good as the Quarterbacks were, the offense struggled for most of the season with Cardale Jones starting. Jones seemed more interested in tweeting about Ronda Rousey than playing football. Barrett won back his starting job and after the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State, they really turned it around offensively.
Now, Miller is gone and Cardale Jones declared for the NFL and I am wondering if the Buckeyes might be better off with fewer distractions.
Stephen Collier was part of the 2014 recruiting class and he could be in the mix. The 2015 class, however, brought in 5 star talent Torrance Gibson. Although Gibson did redshirt last season, it will be hard to keep this talent off the field.
Joe Burrow came with the 2015 recruiting class as well. He was a 4 star Ohio talent and redshirted this past year as well. But, he was supposed to be the 3rd team guy last year behind Barrett and Jones.
The Buckeyes recruiting is off the charts and they will find plenty of able bodies at every position.
Penn State: Junior Quarterback Christian Hackenberg has declared for the NFL. I feel he should have returned and I don’t believe he will go very early in the draft.
Trace McSorley replaced Hackenberg in their bowl game loss to Georgia and he nearly brought them from behind to tie the game, but the efforts came up short. McSorley was a freshman and he played little until the last 2 games, but he showed some heart.
However, the guy that impresses me is redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens who was past of the 2015 recruiting class. This kid was brilliant in high school and was only rated a 3 star. Time will tell if he can do it on the college level, but this kid can make plays with his arm, or with his feet, or with both. He has a super arm and can throw on the run and looks to have a really nice pocket presence. I would be surprised if he is not the starter in the Fall. I do suspect that Stevens is more of a James Franklin kind of a Quarterback than Hackenberg.
For next season, the Nittany Lions have a commitment from Jake Zembiec from Rochester, New York. Zembiec is a 4 star guy that might contend for playing time pretty quickly. He’s super mobile and athletic and throws a really nice deep ball while having touch on his shorter passes. He’s 6-4, 215 and I feel he might be rated higher if he lived in another area of the country.
Purdue: In his first start ever, David Blough threw for 340 yards. Against Nebraska, Blough looked like a super star in waiting with 274 passing yards and 4 Touchdowns, plus 82 yards rushing yards and another Touchdown. But, he had injury problems, also.
Austin Appleby was the starter at the beginning of the season, but was inconsistent in the first 3 games. Appleby has one more shot at it this season and the Boilermakers need somebody to step up here badly so that 2-10 doesn’t happen again.
Princeton, Kentucky 4 star recruit Elijah Sindelar redshirted this past season and he will have to contend with Blough, Appleby or walk-on Aaron Banks for playing time. Banks may be a walk-on, but he is 6-4, 200 with some potential.
Rutgers: Chris Ash is the new sheriff in town at Rutgers coming from his Defensive Coordinator position at Ohio State.
Chris Laviano was the Scarlet Knight’s starter last season, but like some other Quarterbacks he had problems with Interceptions with 12. Twelve picks makes me want to go into full Woody Hayes mode and install a 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense. Laviano should get the nod again, but often a new coach will come in and go a different direction, see Pittsburgh as an example.
Hayden Rettig was a transfer from LSU that competed with Laviano last season and lost out.
Ash might like former 4 star recruit Giovanni Rescigno better than Laviano or Rettig. But, he will be a redshirt sophomore and has not played.
Michael Dare is a big local kid that redshirted last year and could compete for playing time as well. This should be an interesting Spring for Rutgers and it’s new coach, Ash.
Wisconsin: Previous Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen tried to get rid of Joel Stave, but he kept coming back. Stave did have some problems turning the ball over last year, but he was a senior and now is gone.
Bart Houston was his back up and the favorite to start this season as a senior. Houston started against Illinois and was decent other than the 2 Interceptions.
I am still waiting on DJ Gillens who was a former 4 star recruit out of Jacksonville, Florida. I thought he would have made an impact by now going into his third year in the program.
Alex Hornibrook is a pure pocket passer that redshirted in his first season.
Kare’ Lyles is an Arizona product that apparently wanted to play in the North, or the Big 10. He was not that heavily recruited but he looks pretty good in highlight videos. Not only does he show a good arm, he also can move around a little bit.
I would assume that Houston gets the nod as the starter, but I would keep an eye on Gillens. I am excited about all of these school’s Spring Games.