Quarterback battles are easily one of the biggest storylines in any college football offseason. And it’s even more under the microscope in 2015, as the position lost several top performers, including Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley.
With spring practice already underway for a handful of teams, it’s time to preview the biggest (and most important) quarterback battles for 2015 spring practice. Ohio State’s battle will garner all of the attention, but because of injuries, it’s unlikely the job will be settled until the fall. Alabama needs a big spring from Jake Coker to replace Blake Sims, while Sean Maguire opens practice at Florida State with an edge on J.J. Cosentino.
College Football's Top 15 QB Battles for Spring Practice
1. Ohio State
Cardale Jones (Junior)
Braxton Miller (Senior)
J.T. Barrett (Sophomore)
Urban Meyer has a good problem on his hands. The Buckeyes have three quarterbacks capable of winning the Heisman Trophy. Injuries to J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller make it unlikely a pecking order is determined this spring.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Jones
Jake Coker (Senior)
Blake Barnett (Freshman)
David Cornwell (Redshirt Freshman)
Alec Morris (Junior)
Cooper Bateman (Sophomore)
Florida State transfer Jake Coker was the favorite to win the job last season but was unable to beat out Blake Sims. It’s Coker’s job to lose again this spring. Freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell might be his biggest challengers.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Coker
3. Florida State
J.J. Cosentino (Redshirt Freshman)
Sean Maguire (Junior)
John Franklin III (Sophomore)
De’Andre Johnson (Freshman)
Deondre Francois (Freshman)
Sean Maguire has one start under his belt, throwing for 304 yards and one touchdown in a 23-17 overtime win over Clemson – arguably the best defense in college football – in 2014. Maguire is the safe pick here, but the upside is with J.J. Cosentino and Deondre Francois.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Maguire
4. Notre Dame
Everett Golson (Senior)
Malik Zaire (Sophomore)
Golson started all 12 of Notre Dame’s regular season matchups, but was passed by Zaire on the depth chart prior to the Music City Bowl. In the upset win over LSU, Zaire passed for 96 yards and added 96 more on the ground. He’s the man to beat in spring practice.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Zaire
Vernon Adams (Senior)
Jeff Lockie (Junior)
Travis Waller (Freshman)
Morgan Mahalak (Redshirt Freshman)
Ty Griffin (Sophomore)
The Ducks make an appearance here in the quarterback battle column, but it would be a major surprise if anyone unseats Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams. The senior has a chance to be one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks in 2015.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Adams
Anthony Jennings (Junior)
Brandon Harris (Sophomore)
Justin McMillan (Freshman)
Upgrading the passing attack should be the top priority for LSU this spring. The Tigers completed only 50 percent of their passes and ranked last in the SEC in passing offense. Jennings posted a 48.9 completion percentage, while Harris didn’t get on the field much in the second half of 2015. LSU should know what it has in Jennings. It’s time to see what this team has in Harris.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Harris
Brice Ramsey (Sophomore)
Jacob Park (Redshirt Freshman)
Faton Bauta (Junior)
Georgia’s offense should revolve around running back Nick Chubb, but contending for the SEC title could depend on how quickly this battle is settled. There’s a new play-caller in Brian Schottenheimer, so there’s a clean slate among this group. The upside is with Park. Experience edge goes to Ramsey.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Ramsey
Shane Morris (Junior)
Alex Malzone (Freshman)
Wilton Speight (Sophomore)
Zach Gentry (Freshman)
Michigan’s offense will show improvement under new coach Jim Harbaugh. But how much improvement? That depends on the development of the quarterbacks. Morris has the edge in experience (43 of 87, 389 yards in career), but Zach Gentry and Alex Malzone are both part of Harbaugh’s first signing class in Ann Arbor.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Morris
Trevor Knight (Junior)
Bake Mayfield (Junior)
Cody Thomas (Sophomore)
Justice Hansen (Redshirt Freshman)
Knight appeared poised for a breakout season in 2014, but he never was able to capitalize off of a strong Sugar Bowl performance against Alabama. Mayfield sat out due to transfer rules from Texas Tech, while Thomas started the final three games of the regular season. New coordinator Lincoln Riley is an Air Raid disciple. That may give Mayfield a slight edge for the job.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Mayfield
Josh Rosen (Freshman)
Jerry Neuheisel (Junior)
Asiantii Woulard (Sophomore)
Brett Hundley leaves big shoes to fill at UCLA, and there’s an intriguing battle ahead this offseason. Rosen – the No. 12 prospect in the 247Sports Composite – is battling Jerry Neuheisel – the son of former coach Rick Neuheisel. Rosen has the edge in talent and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Rosen
11. Ole Miss
Chad Kelly (Junior)
Ryan Buchanan (Sophomore)
DeVante Kincade (Sophomore)
This quarterback battle is one of the toughest to project on this list. Kelly – a former Clemson quarterback – has the edge in talent but Kincade and Buchanan have worked in coach Hugh Freeze’s system for the last two years.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Kelly
Treon Harris (Sophomore)
Will Grier (Redshirt Freshman)
New coach Jim McElwain’s background on offense is going to pay dividends for the Gators. Harris threw for 1,019 yards and nine scores in nine games last season, while Grier – the No. 48 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite – spent last year as a redshirt.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Grier
Reggie Bonnafon (Sophomore)
Will Gardner (Junior)
Pat Thomas (Junior)
Lamar Jackson (Freshman)
Kyle Bolin (Sophomore)
Tyler Ferguson (Junior)
Three quarterbacks – Bonnafon, Bolin and Gardner – all made starts for Louisville in 2014. Bonnafon and Gardner suffered knee injuries, which allowed Bolin to start against Georgia in the Belk Bowl. Ferguson is a transfer from Penn State and completed 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards for one score with the Nittany Lions in 2013.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Ferguson
Seth Russell (Junior)
Chris Johnson (Sophomore)
Jarrett Stidham (Freshman)
Technically, there’s a quarterback battle with Bryce Petty departing. However, all signs point to Seth Russell as the favorite. True freshman Jarrett Stidham is a name to watch for the future.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Russell
Jerrod Heard (Redshirt Freshman)
Tyrone Swoopes (Junior)
Kai Locksley (Freshman)
This position is under the spotlight after Texas averaged only 21.4 points per game in 2014. Swoopes had some promising efforts but threw for only 257 yards and five interceptions over the last two games. Heard – the No. 72 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite – is off a redshirt season and ready to push for the starting job.
Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Heard
Other Key QB Battles to Watch in Spring Practice