Breaking down and ranking every Big Ten team’s quarterback depth chart before spring football.
Big Ten Prespring Quarterback Depth Chart Rankings
There’s no real star power in the Big Ten at quarterback, but there are a slew of very good ones on the top teams. The problem? The struggling teams are going into the offseason desperately looking for a direction and the right guy to change around their fortunes.
So which teams have the best quarterback depth charts going into the spring? Here’s the early look at the position for every team, loosely ranking them all based on how good the starter is along with how talented and deep the backup situations are.
14. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Inside Track Starter: Seth Green, Soph.
Contender: Vic Viramontes, Soph.
Wild Card: Tanner Morgan, RFr.
It’s not like Demry Croft was about to grow into the next Tom Brady, but with his transfer, and the graduation of Conor Rhoda, the situation is a big of a mess. Green will be the tentative No. 1 guy to start spring ball, but JUCO transfer Viramontes – a dangerous dual-threat option who had a cup of coffee at Cal after originally choosing Michigan – was brought in to provide a big push for the job right away.
– Minnesota Schedule Analysis
13. Illinois Fighting Illini
Returning Starter: Cam Thomas, Soph.
Contender: Coran Taylor, Fr.
Wild Card: M.J. Rivers, Fr.
With the transfer of Jeff George Jr. and Chayce Crouch, it’s Thomas or bust at this point. He’s got the upside to be the leader of the offense, but he’s still very, very raw as a passer. The recruiting class has to come through, with the 6-4 Rivers a dangerous dual threat option out of Texas, and the 6-3 Taylor a do-it-all local product.
– Illinois Schedule Analysis
12. Indiana Hoosiers
Returning Starter: Peyton Ramsey, Soph.
Contender: Mike Fiacable, Soph.
Wild Card: Michael Penix Jr., Fr.
Ramsey took over late last year, but he got knocked around way too much. He’s got the experience and the upside to make the job his for the next few years, but Penix is the main man who might take over if he’s ready right away. The pro-style passer out of Tampa is missing the size – he’s a thin 6-2, 175 – but he can wing it around. Flaccable got in a little bit of work, but the former walk-on doesn’t have the upside of Penix.
– Indiana Schedule Analysis
11. Northwestern Wildcats
Returning Starter: Clayton Thorson, Sr.
Contender: TJ Green, Jr.
Wild Card: Aidan Smith, Soph.
This is the Big Ten’s biggest hot mess situation unless Thorson can magically return right away from a torn ACL suffered in the bowl win. He’ll have eight months to heal after his surgery, but the Cats can’t count on him to be 100%. Soooooo, good luck figuring out who’ll be the main man coming out of spring ball. Green is the veteran backup in the bunch. Smith, Andre Marty, and freshman Jason Whittaker will all get even shots at the job.
– Northwestern Schedule Analysis
10. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Inside Track Starter: Adrian Martinez, Fr.
Contender: Patrick O’Brien, Soph
Wild Card: Andrew Bunch, Jr.
At the end of the day, Tanner Lee turning pro early is a good thing – Scott Frost needs to develop his quarterback of the future. That might happen right away if star recruit Martinez can handle the work right out of the gate. O’Brien might be the easy choice until the newbie is ready, but Bunch and Tristan Gebbia will each get long looks for the wide open job. Throwing another curveball into the mix is former UCF backup Noah Vedral, who won’t be eligible until next year, but will be a part of the system.
– Nebraska Schedule Analysis
9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Returning Starter: Giovanni Rescigno, Sr.
Contender: Johnathan Lewis, Soph.
Wild Card: Tom Flacco, Sr.
It might not be the Ohio State or Michigan situations, but it’s going to be a really, really interesting quarterback battle. Rescigno is the senior leader who knows what he’s doing, but Lewis is the superstar recruit of last year with the upside to be the one under center if and when the program is good. And then there’s Western Michigan transfer Flacco, who can run a bit and be a decent backup to count on. Throw in recruits Artur Sitkowski and Jalen Chatman, there are a whole lot of options for new offensive coordinator John McNulty to play with.
– Rutgers Schedule Analysis
8. Maryland Terrapins
Inside Track Starter: Kasim Hill, Soph.
Contender: Tyrrell Pigrome, Soph.
Wild Card: Tyler DeSue, Fr.
It’s this simple: who’s healthy? If Hill’s knee is okay after suffering a torn ACL, he’s the guy, but Pigrome is a good option, too, if he’s past his own knee injury that knocked him out of last year. Caleb Henderson is still around and part of the veteran depth, and Max Bortenschlager was the main man for a while – before getting hurt – but again, it’s all about the knees of the young guys.
– Maryland Schedule Analysis
7. Iowa Hawkeyes
Returning Starter: Nathan Stanley, Jr.
Contender: Ryan Boyle, Jr.
Wild Card: Spencer Petras, Fr.
The transfer of Tyler Wiegers to Eastern Michigan hurts the depth, but there was a good shot he wouldn’t have been the sure-thing No. 2 guy anyway. Stanley is firmly entrenched as the starter, and four-star recruit Petras is a very big, very promising option to be ready soon. Boyle is more of a dual-threat option, but he doesn’t have any experience.
– Iowa Schedule Analysis
6. Purdue Boilermakers
Returning Starter: Elijah Sindelar, Jr.
Contender: David Blough, Sr.
Wild Card: Jack Plummer, Fr.
Who’s healthy? Blough is in the mix for the starting job if and when he’s back to 100% after suffering a dislocated ankle, and Sindelar is probably the main man if he’s okay after playing through a torn ACL. Jared Sparks will be tried out at quarterback after seeing time at receiver, and 6-5 star recruit Jack Plummer out of Arizona – no relation to Jake – will get every opportunity. Considering head coach Jeff Brohm rotated quarterbacks last season, everything is on the table.
– Purdue Schedule Analysis
5. Wisconsin Badgers
Returning Starter: Alex Hornibrook, Jr.
Contender: Jack Coan, Soph.
Wild Card: Chase Wolf, Fr.
There’s a nice, easy pecking order – maybe. There’s no question that Hornibrook is the starter, with Coan a promising backup and Karé Lyles a strong – but small – pro-style passer. However, a good curveball could potentially be thrown into the mix if Stanford transfer Keller Chryst decides to come in as a graduate transfer. Freshman Chase Wolf is the new guy to groom to be a part of the 2020 chase.
– Wisconsin Schedule Analysis
4. Michigan Wolverines
Returning Starter: Brandon Peters, Soph.
Contender: Shea Patterson, Jr.
Wild Card: Dylan McCaffrey, RFr.
It’s a wide open job with Wilton Speight transferring, Alex Malzone taking off for Miami University, and with John O’Korn done. The assumption is that Ole Miss transfer Patterson will be the main man if the NCAA declares him eligible to roll right away, but he throws way too many picks – Peters might really be the better option. And then there’s McCaffrey, the star recruit of a few years ago who’ll get every shot at the job. Also in the mix is 6-5, 210-pound freshman Joe Milton. It’s Jim Harbaugh – everything is on the table.
– Michigan Schedule Analysis
3. Michigan State Spartans
Returning Starter: Brian Lewerke, Jr.
Contender: Rocky Lombardi, Soph.
Wild Card: Theo Day, Fr.
Lewerke rose up into one of the Big Ten’s newest stars, throwing 20 touchdown passes and throwing just seven picks as he grow into the starting job. However, the depth is lacking now after backup Messiah deWeaver chose to leave and go the JUCO route, and with veteran Damion Terry done. Lombardi is a promising option, and former Austin Peay transfer Mickey Macius will get a look, but Day is the likely the star of the near future if anything happens to Lewerke. The four-star recruit will be with the team this spring.
– Michigan State Schedule Analysis
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
Returning Starter: Dwayne Haskins, Soph.
Contender: Joe Burrow, Jr.
Wild Card: Tate Martell, Soph.
It’s not the Cardale-J.T.-Braxton quarterback derby of 2015, but it’s a good one. Haskins turned into the trusted No. 2 man at the end of last year, but Martell is the interesting talent who has to be kept happy – he was too big a recruit to sit around without a role. The Burrow-to-transfer watch has been on, but he’s still a Buckeye for the immediate moment.
– Ohio State Schedule Analysis
1. Penn State Nittany Lions
Returning Starter: Trace McSorley, Sr.
Contender: Tommy Stevens, Jr.
Wild Card: Sean Clifford, Soph.
Possibly the cleanest and easiest of all the Big Ten quarterback situations, McSorley is the unquestioned starter, Stevens is the backup – even as transfer and position change rumors to receiver are constantly swirling – and Clifford is the quarterback-in-waiting. Freshman Will Levis is an okay recruit, but he’ll redshirt.
– Penn State Schedule Analysis