Who has the best quarterback situation in the Big Ten? Going into the summer, here’s the quarterback ranking for every Big Ten team.
Clayton Thorson was the starter throughout last year and comes in with the experience to be ready to do more, but he showed nothing last year to suggest he can start winging the ball all over the year. A sophomore, he was far better at times this spring, but he still has to prove he can make a receiving corps work. Matt Alviti is supposed to be the backup, but he missed spring ball with a hip injury.
Is it actually a positive that two Purdue quarterbacks are working so prominently with other Power Five programs? Austin Appleby looks like the top backup now at Florida, while Danny Etling might be the No. 2 man at LSU. Maybe that means David Blough is the real deal with the talent make a big leap forward after a promising freshman season. Backup Elijah Sindelar was a good get for the program with a big-time arm.
The pressure is on JUCO transfer Richard Lagow to be the type of passer who can not only take over for Nate Sudfeld, but do even more. The 6-6 bomber fits the IU style, while Zander Diamont is more of a runner. He’s experienced, but he’s not going to be the answer. The coaching staff will try to develop sophomore Danny Cameron into the No. 2 guy.
The Terp quarterbacks have been awful recently – at least when they’re able to play, with injuries a constant problem. However, Perry Hills is a veteran with just enough talent to make the offense far better right away under D.J. Durkin. Caleb Rowe is a veteran backup who can step in and produce, and he might just be good enough to take over the starting gig in fall camp.
This is going to be a sneaky-good quarterback situation for new head man Chris Ash. Chris Laviano had a good spring, but Hayden Rettig has been around long enough to provide a big push for the job. Neither one is a superstar, but out of all the issues for the Scarlet Knights, the quarterback play shouldn’t be too big a problem.
9. Penn State
Was Christian Hackenberg that bad or was it the offensive line? Trace McSorley stepped in when the Nittany Lions needed help in the bowl loss, and now he’s going to have to try getting more out of an attack that Hackenberg couldn’t do much with. Tommy Stevens had a good enough spring to be right there in the hunt for the starting job late this summer.
Tommy Armstrong has to be sensational. The senior knows what he’s doing in the Husker offense, but he’s not going to bomb away for big yards – he’s more of a leader and a baller. With Johnny Stanton off quarterbacking UNLV, senior Ryker Fyfe is the top option to step in if something happens to Armstrong, who might boost this ranking up with a good year as more of a passer.
Wes Lunt needs to stay in one piece. If that happens – it’s not a given – Lovie Smith has his pro-style passer to build the offense around. Backup Chayce Crouch will have a line on the job next year, and while he’s not Lunt, he’s not a horrible choice if he gets thrown into the fire. Not ready yet, but an interesting name nonetheless – redshirt freshman Jeff George Jr.
Bart Houston has seemingly been around the program for 13 years. He has more than earned his shot at the starting gig, but redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook is a great-looking option, even if he didn’t always look like it this spring. Houston is the type of veteran who should thrive with what the Badgers need to do.
It’s the offseason call I’m not wavering off of quite yet – Mitch Leidner is going to be in for a fantastic fifth-year senior season. Always known as a dangerous runner, the passing will be just good enough to give the Gophers a downfield threat. Demry Croft is going to work into the equation as another dual-threat option just to get his feet wet for next year, but if he’s playing for a long stretch, there’s going to be a problem.
Just how good is C.J. Beathard? If he’s able to progress and be the type of all-around playmaker who can carry the offense to a whole other level, Iowa might have the Big Ten’s second-best quarterback situation. Tyler Wiegers is purely a backup option, but he got his chances to show what he could do throughout spring ball – he got in some solid work.
The Wolverines have lots and lots of quarterbacks to choose from, and to provide decent depth. It’ll be a fun fall camp after Wilton Speight looked like the main man coming out of spring ball. Former Houston transfer John O’Korn is considering the favorite based on talent, but Speight might have to collapse. One-time star recruit Shane Morris will have to be lights out to get the gig, but he’s not a bad third option.
2. Michigan State
It doesn’t matter if it’s Tyler O’Connor or Damian Terry – the Spartans have too good options who can play. They might not have a Connor Cook, and they might not have anyone who’s going to dominate and take over games by himself, but the talent is there to do what’s needed for an offense that’ll live on the ground game.
1. Ohio State
There’s J.T. Barrett and a whole lot of prayers. With the talent and upside to be the Big Ten Player of the Year – and a top Heisman candidate – Barrett takes the Ohio State quarterback situation to the top spot all by himself. However, with backup Stephen Collier out with a torn ACL, the No. 2 situation is a potential nightmare unless good-recruit Dwayne Haskins Jr. can prove he’s ready right away.