Starting quarterbacks receive the most attention, but college football has shown over the years that the backup position may be the most important. With injuries taking place and starters not always being able to carry their own weight, it is critical for coaching staffs to have a backup that they can count on at any moment.
What would happen if Johnny Manziel proved to be a one-year wonder, or A.J. McCarron caught the flu and couldn't go for a crucial SEC showdown? You can never have enough reliable quarterbacks, and having another option is crucial to a team’s overall success.
The truth is that there are some quarterbacks out there that could be the No. 1 option for plenty of other schools, but are stuck behind a more experienced and proven signal-caller. Other backups still need to prove themselves, but have shown at certain points that they have the goods to step in right away and help carry the offense if needed.
Whatever the case may be, here are some of the best backup quarterbacks in college football entering the 2013 season.
Cyler Miles will be forced to wait one more season behind starter Keith Price, but it is only a matter of time before he is tearing it up in the Pac-12.
A dual-threat quarterback, Miles is still a bit raw at the position. He can force the ball at times and does have accuracy issues, but as far as making plays with his legs and keeping a defense on its heels, it gets no better than Miles.
He has wonderful size at 6'3", and he does a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly. He does a great job of buying himself extra time in the pocket, and if there is a running lane available, Miles will take advantage and pick up a huge chunk of yards.
Washington has one of the more underrated quarterbacks in Price on the roster, but Miles may have the most upside and could soon be that guy to help lead Washington to a Pac-12 title, if that isn't accomplished this season.
This may surprise some people because Andrew Hendrix has had the opportunity to land the starting job many times throughout his career. Spending his entire career as a backup and being used very rarely, Hendrix is an afterthought and may end up being the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart for the Irish.
The lack of production or playing time shouldn't scare you away.
Hendrix has a lot of things to offer an offense. At 6'2", 220 pounds, he has the prototypical size you want from a quarterback, but he is also more than capable of picking up yards with his feet.
It isn’t very often you see somebody this big, with feet this quick. He is truly a slower Everett Golson, but he may also have a stronger arm than the current Notre Dame starter. Hendrix isn't a starter because he isn't talented enough, it has more to do with the fact Notre Dame is loaded at the quarterback position.
If Hendrix decided he was going to transfer much like Gunner Kiel has decided to do, there would be plenty of teams willing to open the door for the young man. His overall skill set is rare, and he could develop into something special with a little bit of coaching and somebody believing in him.
Kenny Guiton is another quarterback that hasn't seen much playing time in his career and won't this year as long as Braxton Miller remains healthy.
But remember last year’s game against Purdue?
Miller left the game with an injury and it was Guiton who passed for 77 yards and a touchdown, giving the Buckeyes a victory in overtime. We know about his athleticism and ability to hurt you with his legs, but it was his composure from that game that really won me over. When you haven't played much throughout your career and are sitting on the sidelines the entire game, a comeback victory isn't something that should be expected from you.
The fact that Guiton was able to rally his team and keep calm like a veteran quarterback, it showed that he is a reliable backup and could be starting somewhere if given the opportunity.
The athleticism doesn't hurt, but seeing the composure and leadership from this young man is something many backups don't have.
There is probably nothing that makes you jump out of your seat when watching Connor Brewer. He isn't the biggest guy in the world, doesn't have the biggest arm and he certainly isn't a dual-threat quarterback that you have to worry about taking off.
What makes Brewer special is the fact he has an intelligent football IQ and rarely ever makes a bad decision with the football. He takes what the defense gives him and delivers an accurate football that is usually right on the money. While he has yet to throw a pass for Texas, he always brings a winning pedigree to the table, having won three consecutive state titles back in high school.
Due to the quality intangibles of Brewer and the fact he won't hurt you with mistakes, he is currently in a battle with Case McCoy for the No. 2 spot heading into the new season. Although other reports indicate that Tyrone Swoopes may be the front-runner at the moment. However, we must remember that Mack Brown is still the head coach, and he is somebody who never puts together a complete depth chart in the month of April.
Brewer may have to step it up this spring if he wants to solidify himself as the backup. If he performs as well as he did his senior year of high school, he will make this an interesting battle and likely eventually lockup a No. 2 role.
You could make an argument that we have yet to see what 2013 recruit Shane Morris can do on the football field at the collegiate level. But when discussing backup quarterbacks, how many guys actually have given us a large enough sample to go off of?
We are simply going off potential and the few things they have shown us.
Morris has all of the tools to become that great Michigan quarterback in the new pro-style offense the Wolverines want to run. He has the quick release, strong delivery, and pin-point with accuracy. While he sounds like your typical pocket passing quarterback, Morris also has underrated athleticism and is more than capable of rolling out of the pocket and throwing on the run. He does a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly and throws the ball with tremendous velocity.
We have yet to see Morris on a college football field, but once Devin Gardner graduates, the keys will be given to this young man and everybody should expect big things sooner than later.
Missouri will be a much better football team in the SEC once the quarterback position is figured out. Hopefully James Franklin is healthy, and he can remain the starter, as he is one of the better dual-threat players when not being limited by injuries.
Maty Mauk can then play his part as the backup quarterback and slowly climb up as the potential face of this program. It may still be very early in the process, but Mauk is already receiving comparisons to Brad Smith.
Known for his gunslinger mentality, Mauk has a ridiculously strong arm and is more than capable of taking off with his legs and moving the chains. He has a quick release and could soon draw comparisons to Johnny Manziel as well with his ability to just wing it when out there on the football field.
Mauk was really an underrated recruit of the 2012 class, but he fits the spread offense perfectly and is a playmaker at the position that will help the Tigers this season and the near future.
Gunner Kiel is starting to receive the "bust" label from college football fans before he even steps on the field. This could be coming from his subpar performance in the spring game for Notre Dame, or his constant changing schools and transferring instead of earning his starting job and dealing with competition.
However you look at things, we can't forget that Kiel was the top quarterback of the 2012 class according to Scout, and until we actually see him in game action, we can't just wipe that under the rug. More of a stocky build at 6'3", Kiel has a tremendous arm and has the ability to make all of the throws on the football field. He scans the field well and throws the ball on rope with terrific volatility.
While Kiel should never be considered a dual-threat quarterback, he also has some athleticism to his game and is able to move around nicely in the pocket when pressured.
Whether you are one that still believes in Kiel or is starting to give up hope, he will soon get his shot to prove whether all of the hoopla that currently surrounds him was worth it or not.
You know you are good when you are being considered the starting quarterback for USC as a true-freshman. This is the case with 2013 recruit Max Browne, but until he earns the starting role, we have to assume he is the backup, especially with a more experienced player in Matt Wittek still on the roster.
At 6'5", 200-plus pounds, Browne has the size you like to see from a top-notch quarterback, and he has great arm strength. Good footwork in the pocket, Browne has the ability to buy himself extra time, and he does a remarkable job of throwing a pretty football on the run. Another thing that stands out with Browne is his decision making, as he very rarely makes a bad read or forces the ball into areas the ball should not have been thrown.
Browne appears to be a natural leader on and off the field. I expect it to take some time before he is thrown into a full-tie starting role, but remember this kid because he has the goods to be yet another elite USC quarterback.
There is little doubt that Hutson Mason would be starting for majority of schools out there if he had the chance. Unfortunately, there is some guy named Aaron Murray on the Georgia roster, forcing Mason to take a backseat for yet another season. But even without much playing time under his belt, the backup quarterback is still highly respected when it comes to players and coaches.
Mason wasn't highly recruited coming out of the 2010 class and isn't talked about much with Murray leading the way, but those that have watched him over the years know what he is capable of.
A little more athletic than Murray, Mason does a good job of stepping up in the pocket and avoiding pressure. He has a quick release and throws the ball with great accuracy. He doesn't have the strongest arm you will ever see, but he throws the ball with nice touch and shows good poise when out there on the field.
The backup quarterback has done a great job of leading the Bulldogs this spring, and he will be ready to perform in a game if ever needed to take on a much larger role.
The quarterback battle for Florida State is truly a mess, and there is a good chance that Jameis Winston will be riding the bench this upcoming season. But when you look at his overall skill set, Winston looks like that next great dual-threat quarterback that could soon have college football drooling.
Are you looking for arm strength? Winston proved in this short video that he has all of that and more. The athleticism is clearly there is well. Just watch how he avoids the pressure, makes people miss in the open field and breaks off a long run.
A two-sport athlete that also plays baseball, Winston seems to be that next great quarterback that could not only help put Florida State over the top, but make his way onto NFL draft boards. While it would be insane to compare him to Cam Newton without seeing him suit up for the Seminoles, he has the look of becoming that type of player.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher recently gave Winston a ton of praise and made it seem like he could be the favorite for the starting job. While he does look great this spring, it is still a little too soon to throw him into the fire as a redshirt-freshman, especially with a more experienced option in Clint Trickett competing for time.
There are a ton of great backup quarterbacks across the country, but my money is on Winston as far as having the most upside and carving out the most successful career. Now we just need the coaching staff to give him that chance.