Quarterback battles aplenty heading into camp
If you didn’t know any better, you might think there was only one starting quarterback battle in the country. While the J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones debate continues to dominate the national headlines, there are actually six Big Ten quarterback battles playing out in fall camp.
Daxx Garman vs. Perry Hills vs. Caleb Rowe
A three-quarterback battle in College Park features all the usual suspects. The former starter coming off an injury, the transfer and the up-and-comer will all vie for the lead gig. Rowe has more experience in the system but Maryland coach Randy Edsall spoke highly of Garman’s five wins at Oklahoma State last year. Hills did once beat out Rowe for the job, but also couldn’t stay healthy to hold the job. Rowe is the favorite, but Edsall has maintained it’s a true competition.
Shane Morris vs. Jake Rudock
Jim Harbaugh again sidestepped a chance to hint at which direction he was leaning on Thursday at Michigan’s media day. Rudock, the Iowa grad transfer, has two years of starting experience under his belt but saw C.J. Beathard take his starting job. Morris, the strong-armed southpaw, saw limited action in place of Devin Gardner last year. Don’t plan Harbaugh revealing a starter — publicly — until the last minute. Privately might be a different story.
Matt Alviti vs. Zack Oliver vs. Clayton Thorson
Quarterback battles have become all too familiar in Evanston. This year, Pat Fitzgerald even said at Big Ten Media Days that he could use all three signal-callers if the situation warrants it. Alviti and Thorson figure to be better fits in Fitzgerald’s spread offense. Trevor Siemian wasn’t effective running it, which prevented the Wildcats from providing tailback Justin Jackson the balance he needed. Fitzgerald just needs offensive production, no matter how many quarterbacks it takes.
J.T. Barrett vs. Cardale Jones
So yeah, there’s kind of a position battle here. Before I break this down, read J.T. Barrett’s official bio page.
J.T. Barrett is the reigning Big Ten Conference quarterback of the year who went 11-1 as a freshman starting quarterback while setting 19 school and Big Ten Conference records, and he will be competing to win the job as Ohio State’s starting quarterback in fall camp…
Hmmm…which sentence doesn’t belong? What Barrett did as a freshman was unheard of. But what Jones did to lead the Buckeyes was nothing short of immaculate. To take over in that spot and play that well in three championship atmospheres showed how unfazed Jones is by the moment. While Jones provided the lasting image Buckeye fans dream of, it’s easy to forget just how effective Barrett was. Can someone that good lose his starting job if he’s healthy? Who knows? We might not ever hear the actual reason Urban Meyer chooses either option. If he has it his way, it’ll be kept secret until the first snap at Virginia Tech. So let’s not hold our breath.
Austin Appleby vs. David Blough
Appleby didn’t run away with the job when given the opportunity last year. Sure, he led the Boilermakers to their first Big Ten victory of the Darrell Hazell era with an impressive debut at Illinois, but he didn’t do anything after that to solidify his job for 2015. Blough, however, is an unproven redshirt freshman out of Texas. Blough might be the quarterback of the future in West Lafayette, something that hasn’t been said very often in recent memory. Purdue hasn’t had a quarterback start consecutive opening days since 2008. Consistency at the position would go a long ways toward getting the Boilermakers out of the Big Ten basement.
Chris Laviano vs. Hayden Rettig
Perhaps the Big Ten’s most underrated quarterback, Gary Nova Jr., is no longer running the show in Jersey. His backup, Laviano, and LSU transfer Hayden Rettig will battle it out for the keys to Ben McDaniels’ offense. Rettig, the former four-star recruit, would appear to have the upside to take over Nova’s job. He spent two years on scout teams, but has shown promise in the spring. Kyle Flood doesn’t want to drag the battle out too long, and figures to have a decision a couple weeks into camp. Whoever gets the starting job will obviously benefit from having All-Big Ten receiver Leonte Carroo to throw it up to. That’s not a bad place to start.