Where the B1G quarterback battles stand heading into summer

A lot of changes are coming at quarterback in the B1G in 2017.

Several teams will be welcoming in new faces under center for the upcoming season while a few returning starters will have their jobs on the line as summer camps near. For a few teams, spring football cleared things up at college football’s most important position, but for most programs going through a change, it’s going to take a little more time before a depth chart decision is made.

Where do those teams with a quarterback battle stand as we exit spring and enter the summer?

Here’s a brief breakdown of what we’ve seen so far and what to expect moving forward:

Sep 3, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley (4) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa

All we really learned from the spring game a few weeks ago was that neither Tyler Wiegers nor Nathan Stanley is prepared to handle the starting job just yet. Forced to choose who’s in better position heading into the summer, you could give a slight advantage to Wiegers, who has appeared to be the better passer throughout the spring. But even Kirk Ferentz has said that if he had to make a quarterback decision before fall, he’d flip a coin.

Wiegers and Stanley combined to complete just 18-of-40 passes in the spring game, and threw three interceptions. Stanley accounted for the only touchdown pass of the spring finale. No matter how you slice it, those numbers aren’t flattering.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in Iowa City before Wiegers or Stanley are ready for game action. If there’s not much improvement, the passing attack could be in serious trouble regardless of who’s under center.

Maryland

Though it was Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager who were taking snaps in Maryland’s spring game, it was pretty apparent that Maryland’s four-man quarterback battle will likely come down to Caleb Henderson and Kasim Hill in the fall.

Henderson has been regarded as the best pure passer for the Terrapins but was unable to participate in the spring game because of an ankle injury. And Hill, a four-star dual-threat quarterback, is expected to be a multi-purpose guy who can move the ball with his arm or his legs. While Pigrome and Bortenschlager posses those same qualities, they just didn’t look crisp throughout the spring.

All four guys will probably remain in the race, and it’s possible that Durkin has a multiple quarterback system in 2017. But it’ll be surprising if a majority of the snaps aren’t taken by either Henderson or Hill.

Michigan State

Mark Dantonio is standing firm that Brian Lewerke is the guy for the Spartans this season. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that he’ll be challenged for the starting spot, either.

Lewerke made four appearances in 2016 and made two starts before suffering a season-ending leg injury. He finished the year with 381 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with a 54.3 completion rate. And his recovery didn’t seem to hinder his ability too much, throwing for over 300 yards in Michigan State’s spring game.

Damion Terry and Messiah DeWeaver will continue to battle throughout summer and fall, but it looks like that competition will be for the second spot on the depth chart behind Lewerke.

Minnesota

The quarterback situation is already moving in a positive direction under P.J. Fleck. Though Mitch Leidner provided some stability and experience for the Gophers over the past three seasons, he never really developed into a prominent passer. That shouldn’t be an issue for Demry Croft or Conor Rhoda.

Fleck has said both guys have a lot of work left to do in the summer and the fall. And after spring, Croft and Rhoda appear to be neck-and-neck for the No. 1 spot. Croft looked more polished in the spring game and is also more effective with his legs. He’s probably the favorite to win the job right now.

 

But remember this: Fleck urged Rhoda to stay at Minnesota despite the quarterback’s desire to transfer. There’s still plenty of time for the senior to make up ground and work his way into the starting role. Either way, the quarterback spot appears to be in good hands heading into the 2017 season.

Nebraska

Tanner Lee is the guy. He looked the part in Nebraska’s Red-White game with his precision passing and his awareness in the pocket. And if there was any doubt, Mike Riley announced through Twitter that Lee was at the top of the depth chart heading into summer.

Lee is going to provide something different than the Huskers are used to seeing. He doesn’t have that same dual-threat ability that Tommy Armstrong, Jr. brought to the field, but he does have an accurate arm and moves well for a pocket passer. But his success could depend on the quick development of a talented group of incoming receivers.

 

Patrick O’Brien will be a good second option in an emergency-type of situation, but this is Lee’s job to lose.

Rutgers

At the end of spring, Rutgers didn’t really have many options at quarterback. Right now, Giovanni Rescigno is the leader in the clubhouse. But with Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin and freshman Jonathon Lewis joining the team in the fall, there should be a competitive battle for the starting job.

Rutgers’ passing attack was ranked last in the B1G last season and was 122nd nationally, averaging just 138.3 yards per game. Chris Ash has to find a guy that will improve that mark and turn the Scarlet Knights into a more dynamic team offensively.

So, as we head into summer, we really don’t know much about the starting job at Rutgers. Rescigno has the job, but it’ll be up for grabs the second Bolin and Lewis step foot on campus in Piscataway.

REFERENCES

Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

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