QB Battles Still Completely Up in the Air Following Spring Practices

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2022

QB Battles Still Completely Up in the Air Following Spring Practices

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    Spring practice is full of position battles, but quarterback competitions always land the greatest share of the spotlight.

    After all, nobody on the field affects the outcome on a more consistent basis than the player receiving every snap. Although the level of offseason attention on quarterbacks may feel outsized at times, they're subject to the most scrutiny in the fall too.

    Around the Football Bowl Subdivision, however, dozens of teams are exiting spring ball in search of clarity. Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M are among the big-name programs on the list.

    Each QB battle includes the contenders, latest news and what to expect next.

More to Know

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    Clemson Tigers

    Although the arrival of 5-star Cade Klubnik sparked intrigue at Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney slowed that discussion. According to Davis Potter of the Clemson Insider, Swinney said incumbent DJ Uiagalelei is "definitely our starter."


    Iowa Hawkeyes

    Spencer Petras helped Iowa reach the Big Ten Championship Game in 2021, yet he hasn't cracked 6.5 yards per attempt in two seasons as a starter. Petras is aiming to hold off Alex Padilla and Joey Labas. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Petras is in the lead, per Scott Dochterman of The Athletic, but added the Hawkeyes are "going to keep an open mind."


    Michigan Wolverines

    Fans are eager for 2021 5-star J.J. McCarthy to take over. However, a shoulder injury limited him throughout the last several weeks. McCarthy is fully expected to contribute in 2022, but leaping Cade McNamara on the depth chart will be a challengeespecially after not having a full spring of reps.

Auburn Tigers

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    Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin has a transfer battle on his hands.

    T.J. Finley, who initially enrolled at LSU, attempted 128 passes for Auburn in his first season on the Plains. This offseason, the Tigers added both Texas A&M's Zach Calzada and Oregon's Robby Ashford while losing three-year starter Bo Nix to Oregon.

    Calzada (shoulder) was limited this spring, so the competition will be much fiercer during the summer and into August. That timing fits nicely with Harsin's plan.

    According to Tom Green of AL.com, Harsin is aiming to trim the QB battle to two players after the first scrimmage in the fall.

    Holden Gerinera 4-star in the 2022 classis also in the picture, though he's unlikely to contend for QB1 as a true freshman.

LSU Tigers

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    If you were hoping LSU's spring game would provide answers, that certainly didn't happen.

    "I don't know if we cleared up anything there," first-year Tigers coach Brian Kelly said, per Wilson Alexander of The Advocate.

    Myles Brennan is the injury-plagued veteran. Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels is the most experienced option. Garrett Nussmeier held a top-100 ranking in the 2021 cycle, and early enrollee Walker Howard landed a top-50 billing in the 2022 class.

    Howard, like Geriner at rival Auburn, probably won't be a threat to secure the starting job this season. But Brennan, Daniels and Nussmeier still have a legitimate shot.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    The spring ended in anticlimactic fashion at Notre Dame.

    Shortly before the scrimmage, Tyler Buchner rolled his right ankle because he missed a step while walking down stairs. The minor injury sidelined him for the spring game, leaving Drew Pyne in an unusual spot as the quarterback for both teams.

    The next portion of this competition is loaded with drama, however. Buchner and Pyne are competing for the opportunity to lead Notre Dame into a showdown at Ohio State.

    Although there's no timeline for a decision, "the sooner, the better" is undoubtedly ideal considering the magnitude of ND's opener.

Ole Miss Rebels

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    Just as expected, Ole Miss doesn't yet have a decision on the race between Luke Altmyer and Jaxson Dart.

    Altmyer served as the backup to Matt Corral last season, only handling garbage-time snaps until he replaced an injured Corral in the Sugar Bowl. Dart, meanwhile, transferred from USC and brings six games of experience with 189 career pass attempts.

    So, as hyped as Dart was when he entered the transfer portal, he's still unproven. Altmyer obviously fits a similar mold, as does third-stringer Kinkead Dent.

    This spring, Altmyer and Dart adjusted to their new roles. Summer and fall workouts will be considerably more impactful.

Oregon Ducks

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    Bo Nix, Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield shared reps this spring, and Oregon's coaching staff hasn't provided much insight.

    Granted, we probably know where the decision is headed.

    New coach Dan Lanning expediently fished Nix out of the portal, adding him to the QB room alongside former 4-star prospects Thompson and Butterfield. One of the latter is likely to lead the Ducks in the future, but Nix is probably the "now" for Oregon's offense.

    Although his Auburn tenure was inconsistent, Nix was a three-year starter. Most importantly, his best seasonas a true freshman in 2019came as Kenny Dillingham coordinated the offense. Nix and Dillingham are reunited in Eugene.

    This is legitimately a competition, even as Nix stands out as the expected winner over Thompson and Butterfield.

Pitt Panthers

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    The reigning ACC champions are ready to celebrate Kenny Pickett's early selection in the 2022 NFL draft, but they're also trying to find his replacement for next season.

    Nick Patti is the longtime backup, making 12 scattered appearances and attempting 67 passes since 2019. He's the prime competition for Kedon Slovis, who enjoyed a breakout freshman year at USC in 2019 but transferred after two unsatisfying seasons.

    Given that experience, Slovis is the presumed front-runner. Plus, it'd be strange for Pat Narduzzi and his staff to bring in a transfer if they were already comfortable with Patti succeeding Pickett.

    For now, though, Narduzzi hasn't identified a leader between the familiar face and the newcomer.

Texas Longhorns

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    Following a miserable 5-7 record in Steve Sarkisian's debut season, the Texas Longhorns are looking for redemption. That burden will be placed on the shoulders of either onetime competition winner Hudson Card or star transfer Quinn Ewers.

    Card initially earned the job in 2021 but found himself benched after a subpar day against Arkansas. Casey Thompson, who started the rest of the season, has since transferred to Nebraska.

    And as Thompson left, Ewers entered.

    The No. 1 prospect of the 2021 cycle reclassified from 2022, enrolled at Ohio State, spent the 2021 campaign as a deep reserve and bolted for Texas this offseason.

    These six weeks of spring practice were merely an appetizer to the main event between Card and Ewers in August.

Texas A&M Aggies

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    Texas A&M's quarterback battle has a little bit of everything.

    Haynes King emerged as QB1 last year, but a broken right ankle in the second game immediately ended his season.

    Max Johnson spent the 2021 campaign as LSU's starter after an arm injury sidelined Myles Brennan. Johnson put up encouraging numbers with 2,815 yards, 27 touchdowns and just six interceptionsand even guided LSU to an upset over the Aggies. Three weeks following that victory, he transferred to A&M.

    For good measure, Conner Weigman is a 5-star early enrollee. He rounds out a checks-every-box type of competition with a former starter returning from injury, a big-name transfer and a much-hyped freshman.

    King and Johnson are the leading contenders, but Texas A&M exited the spring with no clear front-runner.


    Recruit ratings via 247Sports.