College Football Spring Practice 2012: The 10 Best Quarterback Position Battles
Spring ball is finally here, and this is the time for most teams to settle a lot of depth chart issues.
Of course, the main position everyone focuses on is quarterback. With so many players coming and going, no position is more crucial for teams than the quarterback position.
Now, some teams are lucky enough to be blessed with a talented quarterback leading the way, but a majority of the teams out there are still searching for their signal-caller. It's going to take time, and it's a position you don't want to rush, but it is a position that will receive the majority of the attention until a final decision is made.
With spring ball fully underway, here are the top 10 quarterback battles as we inch closer to the college football regular season.
10. Oklahoma State
No more Brandon Weeden-to-Justin Blackmon combinations for the Cowboys, but that doesn't mean their fun is over as an explosive offense.
Junior quarterback Clint Chelf is likely the favorite since he was the backup behind Weeden last year, and Chelf is the only quarterback who has thrown a pass that's left on this roster. He's thrown a total of 49 passes for 520 yards and five touchdowns.
But the junior will have some stiff competition from younger players. Redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh is an extremely accurate quarterback who brings mobility to his game as well. He throws a very pretty ball and usually puts the ball right on the money for his receivers.
True freshman Wes Lunt is the future of this program, but he may also be the present. He's only a 3-star prospect, but Lunt has arm strength that's out of this world, along with a big frame (6'5", 205 pounds). He threw for more than 7,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in his high school career.
And remember, he's only a true freshman.
And if you're talking about the most talented out of the bunch, Lunt is your man.
Expect this battle to last into the summer, and don't be surprised if the most experienced quarterback is on the sidelines come September.
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Auburn has an answer at nearly every position, as they return a total of 18 starters.
Quarterback is one of the few positions where they are still searching for a legitimate starter, though.
Clint Moseley is the favorite for now because he has the experience, throwing 108 passes last season and completing 61 percent of them. His best game was against Ole Miss, where he threw for 160 yards and four touchdowns.
Moseley will have some stiff competition, though, from sophomore dual-threat quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who is already receiving comparisons to Cam Newton.
Sure, he's thrown two interceptions while only throwing the ball 12 times, but Frazier's athleticism is unmatched. He has great arm strength and good size at 6'3" and 210 pounds. He's still raw as a passer, but his playmaking ability makes him a very serious contender for the starting spot.
If neither one of those quarterbacks can get their act together, Auburn recently picked up a 4-star prospect in Zeke Pike, who may be a steal in this year's recruiting class. First thing you notice about Pike is his tremendous size at 6'6" and 225 pounds. He has a fantastic arm and underrated mobility.
The Tigers may not have an answer right now, but there is enough talent at this position to keep Auburn fans optimistic about the future.
8. Texas A&M
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Texas A&M heads into its new conference with a new head coach, offensive coordinator and a new quarterback leading the way. Ryan Tannehill will no longer be in College Station, but sophomore Jameill Showers does have the upside to fill the void right away.
Despite only throwing five career passes, Showers was the backup behind Tanehill, and he does have the size at 6'2" and 219 pounds. He also has the mobility to buy time in the pocket as well as the arm that should impress new head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Showers shouldn't get too comfortable, though, because there are talented youngsters such as Johnny Manziel, Matt Joeckel and new recruit Matt Davis right behind him.
Neither Manziel nor Joeckel has any experience at the collegiate level, but you have to like the dual-threat option of Manziel. Joeckel is more of your traditional quarterback who stands tall in the pocket and throws bullets across the field.
Davis is a 4-star prospect, who is another dual-threat option the Aggies have to choose from. He throws well on the run and plays the game with a sense of swagger that will excite fans when watching him.
The lack of experience will have this race going deep into the offseason before a decision is made.
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Wisconsin was blessed to have Russell Wilson take over its program for a season, but now it's stuck with a real dilemma, as they have no idea who will play quarterback. This will likely be a four-man race, although only two will compete in the spring.
Joe Brennan and Joel Stave are the ones who will compete early on, while Jon Budmayr continues to recover from a nerve injury in his throwing arm and Curt Phillips continues to rehab from a torn ACL. Both should be back sometime in the fall to compete for a possible starting position.
Brennan is a dual-threat quarterback who makes great decisions with the football and is a leader on the field. He does have decent upside and has thrown a total of 15 passes in his short career. Brennan also has great size at 6'3" and 205 pounds working for him.
Nobody really knows much about Stave, as he was only a 2-star recruit coming out of high school and hasn't stepped foot on the football field yet. We do know that he is 6'5" and 220 pounds, which has to count for something in this race.
Don't expect a decision to be made soon since a couple of key players aren't even able to fight for the starting position yet. Another prospect to keep an eye on is former Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, who is considering becoming a Badger.
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Stanford will try to replace some guy named Andrew Luck this offseason, and the competition is about as wide open as one can get. It's going to include a total of five quarterbacks and everyone from two junior quarterbacks all the way down to redshirt freshmen will have the opportunity to replace one of the most talented players college football has ever seen.
Why is it this wide open?
Because you combine the total pass attempts all five quarterbacks have thrown, and you end up with 13.
Sophomore Brett Nottingham was Luck's backup a year ago and has the most experience, throwing for a total of eight passes in his short career. But he does run a 40 in the 4.7 range, and he arguably has the strongest arm out of all the options to choose from.
Other quarterbacks who will have a shot include juniors Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo. They've thrown a combined five passes. Nunes has a strong arm and great size at 6'4" and 205 pounds, while Picazo is another big guy at 6'3".
Redshirt freshmen Evan Crower and Kevin Hogan are the long shots in this whole competition.
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Quarterbacks competing for this starting job are David Ash and Case McCoy.
Ash seemed more like a running back early on in his career, as he finished the season with 73 total rushes.
Ash still needs to work on being a complete quarterback, considering he threw eight interceptions to four touchdowns. He's still young and very raw as a passer, although he did have his best game in the bowl victory over California, completing 60 percent of his passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Maybe this is a sign of good things to come for the sophomore quarterback.
McCoy has great size at 6'2" and 200 pounds, and he is accurate with the football.
However, it's his decision-making that drives Longhorn fans crazy, as McCoy threw four interceptions in the game against Baylor. Case is mobile like his older brother Colt, but Case has a lot of improving to do before he's named the starter of the Longhorns.
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Quarterbacks competing for the starting job are Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota.
Bennett is a dual-threat quarterback much like Darron Thomas was, but is even faster than last year's starter. He is the early favorite to become the starter for the Ducks.
We've already seen a little bit of what Bennett is capable of; in last year's game against Colorado, he threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Bennett also ran for more than 20 yards four times his freshman year.
Although Mariota was only a 3-star quarterback coming out of high school in 2010, there is a lot of hype for him this spring. He's somebody who is more comfortable throwing the football than Bennett and also has size in his favor (6'4").
Mariota is also capable of beating you with his legs, but experience may be an issue here. In the quick no-huddle offense, it may take time before Mariota is ready to take over the team.
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Quarterbacks competing for the starting job are Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett.
Driskel was the backup quarterback behind John Brantley last season, but he ended up losing that title to Brissett later in the year.
Driskel has fantastic size at 6'4" and 235 pounds, plus an extremely strong arm. Another thing that makes Gator fans really excited is that Driskel a dual-threat quarterback. He has the arm to make all of the throws downfield, and he can also move the chains with his feet.
He still needs to mature a bit and work on decision-making, but Driskel has all of the tools to be a special quarterback.
Brissett is another quarterback who must work on his decision-making, as he's thrown four interceptions on just 39 career pass attempts.
You have to like his size at 6'3" and 239 pounds, not to mention his arm strength; Brissett was a 4-star recruit in 2010. He sees the field well, but he just needs to mature like Driskel.
Brissett has a lot of potential to be a key part of this offense.
2. Boise State
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Quarterbacks competing for this starting job are Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick and Nick Patti.
Southwick was the backup behind Kellen Moore and has only thrown 54 career passes. He is about the same size as Moore is at 6'1" and 197 pounds, but a high percentage of his passes we've seen from him have been in mop-up duty.
Although we really don't know much about the kid, Southwick has already been pegged as the favorite to win the competition.
Hedrick is another quarterback who hasn't seen much time due to Moore dominating the college football scene; Hedrick has only thrown the ball a total of three times.
He is a 3-star prospect who was recruited in 2009, and he is a mobile quarterback who can kill you with his legs if you're not careful. Hedrick also has a strong arm, which will provide some serious competition for Southwick.
Patti is the dark-horse in this whole competition since he is a true freshman. He has great speed, running the 40 in the 4.5 range. Patti's only downfall is size; he is only 5'11" and 185 pounds.
1. Notre Dame
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Quarterbacks competing for the Fighting Irish's starting job are Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel.
Rees has more experience over every other quarterback on the roster, as he's played quite a bit the last two seasons and started last year.
He completed 65 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns in 2011, but the turnovers haunt Rees and this Irish team the most. Rees has thrown a combined 22 interceptions in two seasons.
Still, the experience alone makes him a strong candidate to once again become the starting option.
Hendrix is a big body at 6'2" and 220 pounds, and he is more of a dual-threat quarterback, as he's capable of scrambling to move the chains. Hendrix also has the best arm out of this group, which is probably his best trait.
Although, much like Rees, Hendrix does tend to force the ball sometimes, as you saw a little bit last season when he threw two interceptions on only 37 pass attempts.
Still, the sophomore quarterback will get a strong look.
Golson is the dual-threat quarterback out of this bunch, and that's what makes him such an exciting prospect the fans want to see. In Brian Kelly's spread offense, Golson would likely be the best fit overall because of his legs.
However, other than his running ability, we don't know much about Golson since he has yet to step foot on the football field at the collegiate level.
Kiel has the longest odds to win this competition, but he will likely be given an outside shot to win the starting job. He was one of the top prospects in this year's class, and he's considered the future star for this program.
We know Kiel has great accuracy and makes great decisions on the football field. It's the lack of experience that will force the 5-star recruit to wait a year or so before taking over.