Picture from Blake Bortles Facebook page
It seems like this year there is an epic clearout at the quarterback position throughout the FBS, with seniors graduating and juniors (and sophomores) declaring. Not just any old quarterback either – multi-year starters who have been the face of their franchise. So, who’s in the battle for the thankless job of replacing these stars?
Blake Bortles, Central Florida
A 2-year starter who threw for 7598 yards and 56 TDs, leading the Knights to their first (a BCS (and only) bowl. Bortles also chipped in with 15 rushing TDs.
The Contenders: Sophomore Justin Holman was the backup last year, throwing for 98 yards and a TD (1 Int) in 3 games. He’ll battle Pete DiNovo in camp again, this time for the starting job. Both were 3-star signings last year. Also in the mix is this year’s prize recruit, 4-star pocket passer Tyler Harris, who could be a Bortles clone. The smart money’s on Harris.
Brendon Kay, Cincinnati
Not quite a star as he couldn’t win the starting job in camp, but a winner on the field. Kay threw for 4647 yards and 32 TDs, and added 8 rushing scores, while starting 16 games.
The Contenders: Munchie Legaux was granted a fifth year of eligibility, and if he is able to go, he could start. Bennie Coney backed up Kay last season and has to be in the mix, but transfer Gunner Kiel will be eligible to play in 2014. He was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2012. He’ll get every opportunity to show what he can do in camp.
Garrett Gilbert, Southern Methodist
Gilbert finally showed the promise last season that made him a top recruit in 2009. In a rocky career, he threw for 9761 yards and 49 TDs, adding 20 more scores on the ground.
The Contenders: Neal Burcham is an obvious choice, having played pretty well in 4 games replacing Gilbert, even though he was a freshman. SMU has a bunch of good young guys waiting in the wings, none of whom has Burcham’s experience. Juniors Garrett Krstich and Conner Preston have a little game experience, but watch out for incoming freshman Jordan Severt, who can throw with aplomb.
Cody Green, Tulsa
The former Nebraska transfer would have been a 2-year starter if he hadn’t missed time with injury, although he’s far from irreplaceable. He threw for 4588 yards and 29 TDs, while adding 8 on the ground.
The Contenders: Dane Johnson struggled as Green’s replacement, but huge second-year leaps aren’t unheard of, and he will be considered. Incoming freshman Jabe Burgess should make some noise in camp, but Ryan “son of TJ” Rubley may end up head of the class in what should be a spirited training camp battle.