With spring practices underway, we kickoff a two-part series on the top quarterback battles to watch this spring. We start down South, the heart of SEC and ACC country.
Interviewees: Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley, Kiehl Frazier
Resumes: There is no replacing Cam Newton, but with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn still calling plays, the the potential is there for the Auburn starting quarterback to put up good numbers. Trotter backed up Newton last fall and is more mobile than Moseley giving him the early edge. True freshman Kiehl Frazier doesn't join the mix till this summer.
Who gets the job?: Trotter.
Interviewees: John Brantley, Jeff Driskel
Resumes: Brantley is the incumbent but that doesn't mean much when you throw for just over 2,000 yards with nine touchdowns and ten interceptions. Driskel is a true freshman who enrolled early and is already bringing up visions of Tebow 2.0. The biggest factor in this quarterback battle will most likely be the new offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis. Will Brantley, who struggled mightily in the spread option, flourish in a pro-style system? Will Weis be comfortable enough to hand the reigns to a true freshman? Keep in mind that even with Jimmy Clausen, Weis went through a couple of quarterbacks before the talented freshman saw the field. Although Brantley struggled last year, I expect him to get the nod with Driskel breathing heavily behind him.
Who gets the job?: Brantley.
Interviewees: Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, Zach Mettenberger
Resumes: Last season, LSU had all the makings of an SEC championship team except the fact that they had dismal quarterback play. To give you an idea, consider that the Tigers won four games last year with less than 100 yards passing as a team. Jefferson is the returning starter and while he has displayed good leadership and even better athleticism, he is just not a good passer. Lee is the better passer but that is not saying much. The guy who could take the Tigers to the next level could be Mettenberger. This time last year, Mettenberger was challenging Aaron Murray for the starting job at Georgia but got booted off the team. A quick stop in the JUCO ranks and now he has landed back in SEC country. Mettenberger is a big quarterback (6'5, 240 lbs.) with an even bigger arm.
Who gets the job?: Mettenberger.
Interviewees: Stephen Morris, Jacory Harris
Resumes: This should be an interesting competition as there is a new coaching staff and therefore all slates are wiped clean. Over the past three years, Harris' slate got awfully dirty with untimely interceptions and offensive implosions. Harris was highly touted out of powerhouse Northwestern High School in Miami and while he has flashed signs of brilliance at times, overall he has been underwhelming. Morris was forced into duty early but played beyond his years. Morris finished the season with pedestrian numbers but provided a spark at times that Harris lacked. Morris is more athletic than Harris and also possesses a stronger arm. Under Golden, neither will need to be the gamebreaker that Mark Whipple needed them to be but they will still need to cut down on the interceptions.
Who gets the job?: Morris.
Interviewees: Zack Stoudt, Nathan Stanley, Randall Mackey, Barry Brunetti
Resumes: Last year Stanley was so close to holding down the starting job but lost it at the last second to Jeremiah Masoli. Well this year he will once again be fighting for the job. Stanley is a prototypical pocket passer with good size and a good arm but has struggled to put it all together on the field. Back is Mackey who was a JUCO transfer last season but redshirted as he recovered from knee surgery. Mackey is a superb athlete who is actually an underrated passer. Stoudt is another JUCO transfer and is more of a pocket passer with decent mobility. Brunetti is a transfer from West Virginia who is applying for a waiver transfer. Of the quartet, Stoudt seems to have the best combination of skills that new offensive coordinator David Lee is looking for.
Who gets the job?: Stoudt.
Tyler Wilson has been groomed to replace Ryan Mallett.
A.J. McCarron will battle redshirt freshman Phillip Sims and true freshman Phillip Ely this spring. McCarron is the odds on favorite to win the job.
We got a sneak peek at Tevin Washington when Josh Nesbitt went down last year.
E.J. Manuel officially takes over for Christian Ponder.
Logan Thomas' job to lose and they are gearing their offense to his strengths.