Big Ten Football: Breaking Down Every Team’s Spring QB Situation
Big Ten Football: Breaking Down Every Team's Spring QB Situation
When the Big Ten footprint sees spring, football mirrors the season. The grass gets greener as quarterbacks battle, leaves begin to grow anew as the depth chart shuffles and we eventually look towards the fall. The theme of 2014 spring football is youth. Underclassmen are either locked into the starting position or scrambling to grab it.
Gone are the Nebraska Cornhuskers' Taylor Martinez and Illinois Fighting Illini's Nathan Scheelhaase, staples of their teams for what seems like a decade. The Northwestern Wildcats lose Kain Colter who now takes to the courts, fighting for players' rights to be paid. The Ohio State Buckeyes bid adieu to Kenny Guiton who gave Braxton Miller somewhat of a safety net.
While the aforementioned shedding of talent may seem like it leaves the conference wet behind the ears, don't let eligibility fool you. Plenty of fans are happy their signal-callers are so young. Two on this list played in BCS bowl games last season, and one held his hands high following the defeat of an SEC team on Jan 1. He shouldn't get comfortable, though as he could very well be playing backup come the fall.
Things get even more interesting with the addition of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins. Thanks to expansion and another division split, the road to Indianapolis to contend for the Big Ten Championship just got even harder for some. On paper, the usual suspects to hoist the Stagg Championship Trophy are tempting to pick.
Thanks to the quarterback situations (and in some cases messes), 2014 Big Ten football may mirror its basketball counterpart in terms of unpredictability. Let's have a look at what the next couple of months have in store.
Reilly O'Toole just can't catch a break. Scheelhaase takes off giving him the perfect opportunity to step up for the starting gig. Then former Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt transfers in. Look for Lunt to start and O'Toole to stay on the bench with Aaron Bailey.
Tre Robinson did a solid job leading Indiana in 2013 and it's unlikely he'll drop the job barring injury. The Hoosiers have five other quarterbacks to fight for depth chart positions, all of them underclassmen.
If returning starter Jake Rudock wants to keep the starting job, he's going to have to fend off backup C.J. Beathard. Word is Rudock is more than open to the challenge.
C.J. Brown was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA giving the Terrapins one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the conference. Junior Caleb Rowe should get plenty of attention this spring as Maryland hopes to improve in case Brown has even more bad luck.
Despite being injured for the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Devin Gardner says, "I’m the quarterback of the team.” We'll see what Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris have to say about that, No. 98.
6. Michigan State
You may remember Connor Cook from such performances as the 2013 Big Ten Championship and the 2014 Rose Bowl. Yeah, he's the starter. Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry can position themselves for No. 2, though. Every Batman needs a Robin.
Golden Gophers fans won't have Philip Nelson to kick around anymore. Nobody on the squad will either as he's transferred out leaving the position wide open. Mitch Leidner, Chris Streveler and Donovahn Jones provide a triple threat for the coveted spot.
The battle between Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Johnny Stanton is a year in the making. Since Martinez spent most of his senior year on the sidelines, fans have already taken note of what Armstrong brings to the table. Bo Pelini has thrown Ryker Fyfe's name in as a possible No. 2, but calling that coach speak is an insult to the art.
The aforementioned Kolter gave the Wildcats a great advantage, but he spent most of 2013 banged up. It's Trevor Siemian or bust for the starter's role. Don't be surprised to see Pat Fitzgerald throw Clayton Thorson into the fire for experience purposes, if possible.
10. Ohio State
It's Miller and a host of underclassmen with Guiton's departure. Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier look to help fill out the Buckeye depth chart. Should anything happen to Miller, the Buckeyes' season could sour in a hurry unless a Newcomer of the Year candidate's in the wings.
Life was far from easy for Danny Etling last season, but he's got the inside track to keep his spot for now. If Austin Appleby or David Blough show promise, Etling's seat could be hot come August.
Gary Nova was benched for the final three games of the Scarlet Knights' 2013 season. We'll see how he responds to the pressure given by Blake Rankin, Chris Laviano and Mike Bimonte.
"Efficient" was a word constantly used to describe Joel Stave during the 2013 season. If he has any pressure, it'll come from JUCO transfer Tanner McEvoy. Everyone else is simply too inexperienced.