Spring practice is right around the corner for college football teams. For some programs, spring practice will be more important than for others, as coaches have to determine which quarterback on the roster is going to step into the starting role for the upcoming season. With plenty of entertaining QB battles on the way, it's tough to choose which ones to keep tabs on. Well, here are seven quarterback battles worth watching ahead of the 2019 NCAA Football season.
Miami had high expectations entering 2018, ranking as the No. 8 team in the nation in preseason polls. Largely due to inconsistent quarterback play, the 'Canes finished the year unranked with a 7-6 record. Heading into 2019, Miami has to decide between N'Kosi Perry, who threw for 1,091 yards and 13 TDs in 11 games last year, or Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, a highly-rated recruit who joined the program after falling out of favor in Columbus. This will be one of the more intriguing quarterback battles to monitor.
6. West Virginia
The Mountaineers are looking for the heir to the throne that Will Grier held for the past two seasons. In terms of in-house options, QB Jack Allison threw for 277 yards and a pick during the team's loss to Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl last season, which Grier sat out to focus on the NFL Draft. Trey Lowe III, the most mobile of West Virginia's quarterbacks, is also a candidate after redshirting in 2018. A third option is Austin Kendall, who transferred to the program from the University of Oklahoma. Kendall was a four-star recruit and will certainly give the other quarterbacks a run for their money once he steps foot on Mountaineer Field this spring.
The former "National Champions" have a tough decision on their hands this spring. With Mckenzie Milton's future uncertain after he suffered a gruesome knee injury last year, the Knights have to entertain the idea of utilizing someone else under center in 2019. Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. looked solid during his MVP performance in the AAC Championship, but was more effective making plays with his legs. Brandon Wimbush is also competing for the gig after transferring from Notre Dame, where he appeared in 18 games over a three-year span. If Milton isn't 100 percent for next season, this competition could get very interesting.
4. Boise State
Boise State's all-time passing leader, Brett Rypien, is leaving for the NFL, so the team has to make things work with an extremely inexperienced group of quarterbacks. Hank Bachmeier, Kaiden Bennett, Jaylon Henderson and Riley Smith make up the team's depth at the position, and none of them have had much on-field opportunity in the past. The team's 2018 backup, Chase Cord, tore his ACL in October, meaning he probably won't be ready for spring practice, so the Broncos' QB battle will be a toss up among unproven talent.
3. Penn State
With Trace McSorley moving on to the NFL, head coach James Franklin has already announced that fifth-year senior Tommy Stevens will be the team's starting QB heading into spring practice. Don't call the starting position locked down just yet, however, as redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford will provide some competition. He took snaps in four games last year and already holds the record for longest play from scrimmage in Penn State history with a 95-yard pass. The Nittany Lions have to decide if they want to go with experience or youth in 2019. While Stevens is the current frontrunner for the job, Clifford will try to impress at camp.
Gus Malzahn has his work cut out for him during the spring. With Jarret Stidham declaring for the NFL Draft, Auburn has multiple players in competition for the starting role. Two of the options for the Tigers consist of four-star recruit Bo Nix, son of former two-year Auburn starter Patrick Nix, and former minor league baseball player Carl Sandberg. Sophomore Malik Willis and freshman Joey Gatewood are also vying to start for the Tigers in 2019. Of that group, only Willis has made a throw at the collegiate level.
1. Ohio State
While it might seem like former No. 1 overall recruit Justin Fields has the starting job locked down after transferring from Georgia, I wouldn't be so sure. Redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin spent the past year with the team, giving him a leg up on Fields in terms of familiarity with Georgia's offense. Baldwin is now also fully healed from a knee injury he sustained at the end of his high school career. Now healthy and ready to compete, it'll be interesting to see if the four-star recruit can impress new head coach Ryan Day, and give Fields a run for his money.