With college football season beginning to start back up again (we’re only 195 days off!), spring practices are right around the corner. Across the country, programs will try to determine their starters for 2013.
Of the most-watched roster battles in football though, is that of the quarterback position. Easily the most scrutinized, most decorated position in all of college football, fans across the country will hit the refresh button on their team’s favorite website to find out who, exactly, will be their program’s next starting QB.
There’s quite a few quarterback battles set to occur during the spring, but here are five that are especially intriguing:
USC Trojans: Max Browne vs. Max Wittek
Say what you will about USC quarterbacks’ success at the pro level, but there’s no doubt that the Trojans have never really had a quarterback issue in nearly a decade. Matt Barkley finished out his career as one of the more beloved quarterbacks in program history — although fans aren’t close to calling him the best QB in program history — and leaves some pretty big shoes to fill.
Of course, Max Browne and Max Wittek are both capable successors. Browne, the top quarterback recruit in the nation this past recruiting season, will enter 2013 as a true freshman but will be locked in a battle to start the season right out of the gate, with Max Wittek looking thoroughly unimpressive against Georgia Tech (despite being a decent replacement for Barkley after he was injured against UCLA in the Notre Dame contest).
Prediction: Max Browne
West Virginia Mountaineers: Free-for-all
With Geno Smith graduating, WVU will have a difficult time replacing him. The team doesn’t have the elite talent at QB that USC possesses to replace its all-world signal-caller, and will have to decide from a few lesser-known prospects.
The two most salient competitors will be Ford Childress, a redshirt freshman, and Paul Millard a sophomore. Millard was Geno Smith’s back-up for 2012, but didn’t get a ton of playing time, and thus, isn’t the clear-cut favorite to win the position next season. Both pro-style quarterbacks will be in stiff competition with Chavas Rawlins, a three-star, 2013 signee and dual-threat quarterback.
Things are wide open in Morgantown at the QB spot, and it’ll be a fun battle to keep up with.
Prediction: Chavas Rawlins
Oregon State Beavers: Cody Vaz vs. Sean Mannion II
Perhaps the most intriguing, exciting quarterback battle in 2012, Oregon State will have to face the same, exact dilemma in 2013.
Last season, Mike Riley’s pass-happy offense saw early success with Sean Mannion at the helm, before Mannion was lost to injury for a few weeks midseason. While panic was starting to set in in the midst of what was, at the time, an undefeated season, Cody Vaz led Oregon State to victories over BYU, Utah and Arizona State in Mannion’s absence.
Mannion came back from injury, however, and Riley gave him back his starting spot … for two weeks. Mannion was benched not too long after throwing four picks in an Oregon State loss to Washington. What followed was a back-and-forth carousel that eventually hindered the morale of both quarterbacks and, at the end of the season, there’s still no conclusion as to who is the front-runner in Corvallis, OR.
We expect Riley to vigorously test the two QBs out and come to a conclusion, sticking with one guy for the entirety of the 2013 season so he can continue to ignore his run game.
Prediction: Cody Vaz
Oklahoma Sooners: Blake Bell vs. Drew Allen vs. Cody Thomas
With Landry Jones now out of the picture, Oklahoma has quite the conundrum on their hands. While junior Blake Bell saw limited action in 2012, he was far from impressive, completing under 60 percent of his passes. Senior Drew Allen, on the other hand, has not seen game action thus far in his career as a Sooner. Neither is proven, but the confounding variable in this equation is that of true freshman Cody Thomas, a four-star quarterback out of Texas.
Filling in for Landry Jones will not be an easy task, but Oklahoma has the talent necessary to keep the void from engulfing the Sooners’ offense.
Baylor Bears: Chris Johnson vs. Bryce Petty vs. Seth Russell
The last time Baylor had to replace a record-breaking quarterback … they replaced him with a guy that broke more records.
Robert Griffin III was succeeded by Nick Florence, who threw for 33 touchdowns and ran for 568 yards in 2013, leading Baylor to a strong finish to end the season, with wins over ranked teams like Kansas State and UCLA.
Baylor will have some talent at its disposal here, though, and the incumbent competitors are Bryce Petty and Seth Russell, a pair of QBs that were three-star recruits out of high school. They’ll be joined in their competition by four-star, dual-threat true freshman Chris Johnson, however, which could throw a wrench in figuring out who takes this competition.
Considering Baylor’s offense didn’t skip a beat post-RGIII, though, we’re sure whoever they pick will break more records.
Have an intriguing QB battle we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.