Top College Football QB Position Battles Heading Into Spring Football
Since the very first football game was played, fans have always been fixated on the quarterback. Critiquing his every move, nitpicking at every flaw or boasting a superhuman ability that their team's QB possesses in his toolkit, fans love to talk about their team's signal caller. College football is where it all begins for some of the game's most talented quarterbacks - most importantly spring practice where they get the first reps in preparing for the upcoming season. But there is also competition in spring camps and this year there are plenty of QB battles to be won amongst some the nation's top colleges. Here are some of the ones that you should be watching as teams head back to the gridiron.
Alabama Crimson Tide
As Yogi Berra would say, "It's deja vu all over again." This is the second straight season that the Tide will enter the spring without an incumbent starter already in place. Although Blake Sims didn't really impress during his spring tryout last season, he still beat out incoming transfer Jacob Coker, who many thought was destined to replace AJ McCarron to run Nick Saban's offense. This year, Coker will get another shot to claim the starter's job, but will have to face strong competition, as this race is still wide open. Incoming freshman Blake Barnett seems to be the heir-apparent to the job, but to start such a young quarterback is usually not the way Saban likes to operate. Sophomore Cooper Bateman, freshman David Cornwewell and junior Alec Morris will also throw their names into the mix to be the Tide's next QB.
Baylor is an offensive juggernaut and has been for the past few years. Having seen quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Bryce Petty go through Waco, Texas, it's really interesting to see who Art Briles will turn over the keys to. He tends to go with an experienced hand and in this case that would be junior Seth Russell, who backed up Petty last year. Although most of his action was relegated to mop-up duty or against the untalented non-conference opponents on the Bears' schedule, Russell managed to average 9.6 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 160.7. However, true freshman Jarrett Stidham could force Briles's hand and earn the starting job if he proves to be the best option for the starting gig.
Will Muschamp is out and Jim McElwain is in as the head ball coach for the University of Florida. McElwain brings a very impressive offensive pedigree to a Florida program that has been offensively challenged the last few years to say the least. Treon Harris played his way into the starter's role last season after Muschamp benched Jeff Driskel after his poor performance. Driskel has since moved on to Louisiana Tech to play out his final season. That leaves Harris and redshirt freshman Will Grier as the two who will battle it out for the chance to go under center for the Gators in Week 1. Harris is a phenomenal athlete, but Grier seems to better fit want McElwain hopes to accomplish offensively with the arm and accuracy that he possesses. These two will be "chomping" at the bit to earn the starter's job once spring practice gets underway.
Florida State Seminoles
The Jameis Winston era has come to an end after two seasons. Leading the team to the 2013 national championship and a spot in the first ever College Football Playoff the following year, Winston also had his fair share of controversy during his playing days in Tallahassee. Jimbo Fisher will now look for the team's next signal caller to replace the former Heisman winner. He'll get to choose from Sean Maguire and a pool of three freshmen. It remains to be seen just how good Maguire really is after he failed to turn heads in his lone start against Clemson. Deondre Francois, JJ Cosentino and De'Andre Johnson make up the freshman trio that will look to become the face of the team's offense instead of the upperclassman, and any of the three could realistically pull it off.
Ohio State Buckeyes
You can't write an article on this subject without talking about the elephant in the room when it comes to QB battles. Last year, Ohio State saw a season in which it used two different starting QBs to win a national championship right after its incumbent starter had gone down before the start of the season. JT Barrett took the reigns of the offense after Braxton Miller was declared out for the season before it even started, and was a dark horse to win the Heisman. Then Barrett got hurt right before the Big Ten Championship, forcing Urban Meyer to go with Jones under center. Jones would go on to completely blow away all the competition he faced, throwing for 742 yards and five touchdowns in the three biggest games of the year. So who will Meyer go with? It's still mind-boggling to me that Miller decided against transferring, but will nonetheless be in Columbus looking to take his old job back. Barrett looks the most complete of the three, while Jones could still pull a rabbit out of his hat and manage to take the job for his own.