Chris Redman. Dave Ragone. Stefan LeFors. Brian Brohm. Hunter Cantwell. The depth of the University of Louisville quarterbacks over the last 13 seasons has arguably been the most consistent in all of college football.
Those five were not only a part of nine consecutive bowl appearances (remember that Cantwell played admirably as a walk-on freshman against Virginia Tech in the 2006 Gator Bowl), but also included a string of eight consecutive first team all-conference selections (Redman 2, Ragone 3, LeFors 2, Brohm 1), and an unprecedented five conference offensive player of the year awards.
A quarterback competition is not something Cardinal fans have been used to. The closest we saw in that time frame was a compromise in 2004, when LeFors was the starter, while Brohm would come in for one series and in blowouts (effectively killing Stefan’s chance for Big East Player of the Year honors that season). For the most part, the lineage has been predetermined with expectations just as high for the newcomer as his predecessor.
Not this season. Case in point: During this past April’s Spring Game, four different quarterbacks played significant minutes, with redshirt freshman Zack Stoudt winding up on top, going 5-for-7 for 84 yards and a touchdown.
For head coach and self-appointed offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe’s make-or-break season, developing and maintaining a strong quarterback for the future could quiet the roar of the frustrated Cardinal faithful. Here is a quick look at the candidates. Check back Friday for Miller’s breakdown of the Cardinal rushing attack.
The favorite: Adam Froman
The 6-4, 220-pound junior college transfer from Santa Rosa, California, has been making the most of his opportunities in the open race, especially with a tremendous showing in the Fan Fest practice last weekend. With full contact practices starting this week, look for the veteran to assume more of a leadership role and hopefully put a positive end to the contest.
The contender: Justin Burke
The 6-3, 229-pound junior transfer from North Carolina State may have the best chance at dethroning Froman for the top spot. Hailing from Lexington, he was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state as a senior at Lexington Catholic. He appeared in three contests for the Wolfpack in 2007, and knows the system after being forced to redshirt in 2008.
The dark horse: Zach Stoudt
Stoudt is a 6-4, 215-pound redshirt freshman out of Columbus, Ohio. As a high school senior, he led his Dublin-Coffman squad to a 13-1 record. His father Cliff is best known as being a backup quarterback for Terry Bradshaw on the Super Bowl XIII and Super Bowl XIV winning teams. Zach showed promise in the Spring Game, and will likely be a strong backup for Froman in case of injury.
The others: Will Stein and Alan Castro
Stein, the local standout from Trinity High School, played well in the Spring Game, and knows the system after taking the redshirt as a freshman. His size (5-10, 185 pounds) does leave some wondering whether or not he can be effective in the Big East.
Like Stein, Castro is also quite small for the signal-calling position. At 5-10, 170 pounds, the true freshman out of Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke, Virginia may be best served by redshirting this season, but that has not been determined.
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