Anthony Jennings is Zach Mettenberger's heir to the throne at quarterback for the LSU Tigers.
Is the throne rightfully his? Jennings couldn't ask for a better overall approval rating than the one he possesses right now. Days after driving his team 99 yards down the field and throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to Travin Dural, Jennings is undoubtedly the future, right?
With poise, Jennings ran, threw and guided the Tigers with three minutes to play from his own 1-yard line. It was the type of performance that has fans believing this young LSU quarterback is a future phenom. The next Johnny Manziel? The next Jameis Winston?
Pump the brakes. I remember a quarterback—ahem, Jordan Jefferson—who looked phenomenal in his first season as an LSU Tiger too. Does 142 passing yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech in the 2008 Chick-fil-A bowl ring any bells?
So we must ask the question on every LSU fan's mind—is the quarterback job his to lose in 2014? The answer might not be as obvious as you think.
Want to see how good a Cam Cameron offense can be?
Put a guy who can run and throw at quarterback and see if Cameron's system doesn't soar.
Imagine LSU running a spread-option offense with a mobile quarterback in the backfield, joined by Terrence Magee or Leonard Fournette, should Fournette choose LSU. Quite a frightening sight for SEC defenses, don't you think?
That's what 2014 would have with Jennings at quarterback. Against the Razorbacks, Jennings proved with his passes to Dillon Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Travin Dural that he can be accurate in crucial situations, and he also showed that he has some wheels with a 21-yard quarterback scamper.
Mettenberger hinted with the media after practice earlier this season that LSU has a completely different package for Jennings. I can't help but think back to Mettenberger saying that and wonder—has Cameron already mapped out the future?
All right, sports fanatics—this is why you can't jump to conclusions instantaneously.
Unless of course, you do it expeditiously. Considering the fact that Brandon Harris is already signed to be an LSU Tiger, an assumption that Jennings will be the starting quarterback next season is far from a smart one.
Harris is pretty much a younger version of Jennings. He's a dual-threat quarterback who will benefit from a new recruiting rule that allows prospects to sign as early as August.
Harris, after receiving the first-ever Les Miles in-home visit in the month of November, is already signed with the Tigers, which means he'll get an early jump on learning Cameron's scheme.
That means 24/7 Sports' third-ranked dual threat quarterback will be in perfect position to compete with Jennings this offseason.
That whole experience factor favors the man who saved "the boot" Friday afternoon.
Experience. It's one of those variables that no analysts can draw circles around, but still, they're always quick to point it out. The reason? It matters.
AJ McCarron. Aaron Murray. Even Zach Mettenberger. All three quarterbacks had stellar seasons, and it's because they each came into 2014 having played a full season at the college football level.
Jennings has the experience edge over Harris. Granted, Jennings did not play a full year.
Trust me when I say this—Jennings' demeanor in the closing minutes of the game showed him maturing in front of a nationally televised audience. The meauxment, if you will, captivated a stadium, a state and a coaching staff that will make the final decision on who starts at quarterback next season.
Let's play devil's advocate for a second. Is one drive really going to give that big of an edge to Jennings?
After all, Jennings' playing time in 2014 consisted of sporadic quarterback sneaks, two series at the tail end of the Furman game and the last offensive possession against Arkansas. His reps have seen him total 99 passing yards (fitting), 49 rushing yards and two total touchdowns.
When it's stated like that, it doesn't seem like that big of an advantage.
And don't go assuming he's a lock to gain more. It's not a certainty he plays in the bowl game.
The Advocate's Scott Rabalais tweeted that Mettenberger's injury may not keep him out of a bowl game, and he was supposed to undergo an MRI Saturday. As of Sunday afternoon, the extent of his injury remains a mystery, as no news has been reported of that MRI. If Mettenberger plays in the bowl game, Jennings will possess only a taste of college football action in 2014. Is that really that big of an advantage over Harris?
Ultimately, competition will ensue.
With his God-given ability, Harris will challenge Jennings with the same type of tools, and when the offseason concludes, both quarterbacks will be better because of it.
The quarterback position won't be handed to Jennings, but it's not an outlandish thought to presume Jennings as the favorite.
He's been thrust into the fire, and he's come out surprisingly unscathed. Having to win the game on a cold afternoon from your own 1-yard line isn't the most ideal of situations. Jennings made the most of it, though.
To his credit, Jennings became the quarterback of the future within minutes. Can Harris do the same when he arrives on campus?