College football teams can be divided into two groups during the spring: Those with quarterback competitions and those without.
The ones without are usually kind of boring. There might be position battles all over the depth chart, but nothing quite piques interest like an opening at QB1.
Two of the most intriguing quarterback situations this spring might not qualify as genuine competitions.
You would think leading Alabama to the national title game as a freshman would make Jalen Hurts a lock to start for the Crimson Tide as a sophomore. Not quite. Hurts’ progress stalled late last season, and blue-chip recruit Tua Tagovailoa enrolled early, giving coach Nick Saban something to consider.
At Ohio State, fifth-year senior J.T. Barrett returns with a stacked resume and big-time talent behind him. Redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins, third-year sophomore Joe Burrow and freshman early enrollee Tate Martell could all be pushing for starting jobs most anywhere else.
Keep an eye on Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Columbus, Ohio, for developments.
As for jobs that really are up for grabs, these six could impact potential Top 25 teams.
The competitors: Kelly Bryant, junior; Zerrick Cooper, redshirt freshman; Hunter Johnson, freshman.
The only downside about having a player such as Deshaun Watson is that it can be hard to convince an elite recruit to come sit behind him for a year or two. That leaves the Tigers with no clear replacement. The holdovers are promising, but not Watson-level talents. The new guy is a five-star, but still just a freshman. How this plays out will go a long way toward determining if the defending national champions can contend for another title.
The competitors: Jake Hubenak, senior; Nick Starkel, redshirt freshman; Kellen Mond, freshman.
Hubenak has the experience, Starkel has the big arm and Mond has the upside. Following yet another unsatisfying end to a season for the Aggies, coach Kevin Sumlin is still looking for the next Johnny Manziel, a quarterback who can help turn A&M from pretender to contender in the SEC West.
The competitors: Luke Del Rio, senior; Feleipe Franks, redshirt freshman; Kyle Trask, redshirt freshman.
Del Rio is recovering from shoulder surgery , so it is all on Franks and Trask this spring. Even if Del Rio was around, the best-case scenario for the Gators and third-year coach Jim McElwain was having the two highly touted redshirt freshmen assert themselves. The hope is that one of them can bring stability to a position that has been unsettled in Gainesville since Tim Tebow left town.
The competitors: Malik Rosier, junior; Evan Shirreffs, sophomore; Jack Allison, redshirt freshman; N’Kosi Perry, freshman.
What made it so frustrating for Hurricanes fans to see Brad Kaaya go after three seasons as a starter was knowing he left the foundation of a really good team. If high-level quarterback play was a given, the Hurricanes would be an obvious favorite in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division. Of course, there is QB uncertainty all over the division: Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech will all be breaking in new starters. North Carolina, trying to replace soon-to-be NFL millionaire Mitch Trubisky, seems most likely to add a graduate transfer such as Malik Zaire or Brandon Harris.
For Miami, the younger players have greater potential, but will second-year coach Mark Richt want an experienced leader for a team that looks ready to contend?
The competitors: Quinten Dormady, junior; Jarrett Guarantano, redshirt freshman; Sheriron Jones, sophomore, Will McBride, freshman.
Dormady was the backup to Josh Dobbs last season and has played in 10 games for the Volunteers. He was a four-star recruit. Definitely no slouch. Guarantano, however, is the guy Tennessee fans are hoping seizes the job. He was a huge recruit for coach Butch Jones and has star potential.
The competitors: Tanner Lee, junior; Patrick O’Brien, redshirt freshman.
The Huskers’ competition is maybe most notable because they haven’t really had one is such a long time . The leading candidates to replace four-year starter Tommy Armstrong are traditional pocket passers that should — theoretically — be a more natural fit to coach Mike Riley’s offense.
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