By Thomas Jeffrey
In the blink of an eye spring football has come to a close. Now college football fans will have to wait until the summer and fall camp to feel the excitement for the upcoming season. However, there is much to analyze from the spring games of some of the nation’s top programs and the aspect that will be under the microscope the most will undoubtedly be the quarterback battles.
The most intriguing quarterback battle belongs to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the defending national champions.Everyone knows the narrative. There’s Tua Tagovailoa, the freshman phenom who stole the show during the National Championship and has an unheralded amount of potential. And then there’s Jalen Hurts, the steely veteran who has only lost two games as a starter for the Tide. Well, Alabama’s spring game provided no clarity for this competition. Tagovailoa did not take the field because of a finger injury, and Hurts proved to be mediocre with no touchdowns and one interception. In fact, the star of the spring game was Mac Jones, Alabama’s third quarterback on the depth chart, who threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Although the competition is still clearly between Tagovailoa and Hurts, Jones made some noise and made this quarterback even more interesting. Expect Nick Saban to take his time with his decision.
Ohio State’s situation is similar to that of Alabama. It is very even and unclear who will win the job. Dwayne Haskins may have an edge due to his performance as the backup in 2017, especially against Michigan, and his NFL arm. However, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell are not far behind. During the spring game Haskins and Burrow both showcased their arms and both had impressive long tosses for touchdowns. Martell did not have as great a day throwing the ball, but he showcased his athleticism and explosiveness. Martell also showed his ability to run the read option very effectively, showing flashes of Baker Mayfield and Trace McSorley. The spring game provided no real answers because all the quarterbacks performed pretty well and displayed their different talents. Urban Meyer, like Nick Saban, will take his time in naming J.T. Barrett’s successor.
This one may not be even considered a quarterback battle yet, but don’t be surprised if it it turns into one. Georgia, the national runner-up, just hauled in the best recruiting class in the country, which just happens to feature the best recruit in the country: dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields. Now, Georgia just witnessed Jake Fromm step into the spotlight as a true freshman and lead them to an SEC championship and their first appearance in the College Football Playoff, so it might not be in such a hurry to get rid of him. However, Fields exhibited accuracy and awareness that was beyond his years in the spring game. He threw for 207 yards and one touchdown, and Fromm threw 200 yards and one touchdown. It is unclear whether Fromm is in danger, but Fields could pose a formidable threat to his starting job.
Clemson is in the same boat as Georgia. Kelly Bryant’s debut year was promising and he showed flashes of Deshaun Watson, but he sputtered out in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, throwing only for 124 yards, two interceptions, and zero touchdowns. Like Jake Fromm, Bryant may not have to worry about losing his job. But just like Georgia, Clemson has a stud incoming freshman quarterback by the name of Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence was one of the most touted prospects in America and he showed why in the Tigers’ spring game. Lawrence completed eleven out of sixteen passes for 122 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. His lone touchdown pass was a 50-yard beauty to receiver Tee Higgins that made not only Clemson fans, but football fans in general drool. Lawrence definitely has a better arm than Bryant and is an imposing figure at 6’5”. But Bryant is a better runner and may have more success running the option. Just like Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence has the ability to steal the job as starting quarterback.
As spring football came to a close, the nation’s top programs set a preview for the summer quarterback battles and left fans wondering who will be the starting quarterbacks. Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson are all teams to watch for these quarterback battles, and it will be very interesting to see who will be their gunslingers for the 2018 season.