Who are the projected starting quarterbacks for each Big Ten team?
Illinois Fighting Illini
Current Projected Starter: Isaiah Williams, Fr.
How fast can the new guy get up to speed this August? Sophomore MJ Rivers is the starter if the season began right now, with redshirt freshmen Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor pushing for the No. 2 job. But Williams is the superstar recruit out of St. Louis with the speed and skill – but not the size – to be the dynamic force the Illini offense has been painfully lacking under Lovie Smith.
Current Projected Starter: Jack Tuttle, RFr.
Try to figure this one out before late August … good luck. Junior Peyton Ramsey had a decent season as the starter – throwing for close to 2,900 yards with 19 touchdowns – but former star recruit Michael Penix is better. The sophomore is coming off a torn ACL and could redshirt to keep a year of eligibility. But if he’s 100% and ready to rock by late July, he’s deep in the mix.
IU is fine with Ramsey, and then everything flipped when the NCAA ruled that Tuttle was eligible right away after transferring from Utah. The 6-4 four-star recruit is too good a passer to not get every shot to push out the veteran Ramsey.
Current Projected Starter: Nate Stanley, Sr.
Underloved and underhyped, Stanley is coming off a strong 2,852-yard, 26-touchdown season. Now he’s the rock-solid veteran who has to do even more for an offense that loses a few star targets at tight end. Sophomore Peyton Mansell got in a little work last year and is entrenched as the backup.
Current Projected Starter: Josh Jackson, Jr.
It’s Maryland, so there are plenty of talented quarterbacks, and they’re all trying to stay healthy. Jackson is the man once he graduates from Virginia Tech, but junior Tyrrell Pigrome is a veteran who won’t quickly give up the gig.
Sophomore Kasim Hill hasn’t had a lick of luck – suffering a few knee injuries in his career – but he’s still around despite entering the transfer portal. The X factor is 6-3 true freshman Lance LeGendre, who might move up to the No. 3 spot – at worst – considering Hill’s knee is still healing.
Current Projected Starter: Shea Patterson, Sr.
For what seems like the first time in a long time, Michigan goes into the season 100% settled at starting quarterback. Okay, it’s Jim Harbaugh … 94% settled. Patterson is the main man, junior Dylan McCaffrey is the almost certain No. 2, and 6-5, 234-pound sophomore Joe Milton is the No. 3 who’ll get every shot to push out McCaffrey.
Michigan State Spartans
Current Projected Starter: Brian Lewerke, Sr.
Lewerke was never quite right. He suffered a shoulder injury, and he wasn’t close to being the same quarterback that threw for close to 2,800 yards with 20 scores and seven picks in 2017. Rocky Lombardi is experienced, but he didn’t do much when Lewerke couldn’t go. The X factor is 6-5, 227-pound redshirt freshman Theo Day, who has the size and arm to push for the starting job if the two veterans don’t improve.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Current Projected Starter: Tanner Morgan, Soph.
Flip a coin between Morgan and Zack Annexstad, and it’s probably right. Both were fine, but one of them has to step up and become special. Or, at least, step up and not screw up while the running game does all of the heavy lifting.
Current Projected Starter: Adrian Martinez, Soph.
Martinez is the franchise, the future, and the man for the program over the next three years, but he takes a ton of hits – the Huskers need a good No. 2 option. Junior Andrew Bunch has the experience, Noah Vedral is a dangerous prospect, and freshman Luke McCaffery might be too good to keep off the field.
Current Projected Starter: Hunter Johnson, Soph.
Yes, in the same conference with Justin Fields, Adrian Martinez and Shae Patterson, it’s not crazy in any way to suggest that Johnson – a former superstar Clemson recruit – could eventually be the Big Ten’s best quarterback. Okay, so that’s Fields, but Johnson is a terrific get for the Cats. Senior TJ Green and junior Aidan Smith are good enough to step in if needed.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Current Projected Starter: Justin Fields, Soph.
No pressure or anything, but Fields had better be the real deal, and even more. With Dwayne Haskins off to the NFL and Tate Martell a Miami Hurricane, it’s Fields or bust. West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov is experienced, but he struggled – to be kind – as a Mountaineer. There’s nothing from the latest recruiting class, but Jack Miller is a strong verbal out of Arizona … for 2020.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Current Projected Starter: Tommy Stevens, Sr.
The 6-5, 230-pound Stevens has to step in and shine right away. Sean Clifford is the likely No. 2 early on, but that’s only until the freshmen are ready. Ta’Quan Roberson and Michael Johnson are going to be factors in the depth chart fight.
Current Projected Starter: Elijah Sindelar, Sr.
David Blough was good, but if it all comes together, the 6-4, 225-pound Sindelar has real, live NFL upside. Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer is the main backup – getting plenty of time with Sindelar sitting with a slight knee injury – and with sophomore Nick Sipe and sophomore Aidan O’Connell fighting for the No. 3 spot.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Current Projected Starter: Artur Sitkowski, Soph.
The Scarlet Knight have Sitkowski in place – he’s, at worst, serviceable. Now it’s up to someone else to be more dynamic and get the offense moving. Freshman Cole Snyder is an interesting option, but the program could really, really use a grad transfer to provide a push.
Current Projected Starter: Graham Mertz, Fr.
With Alex Hornibrook taking off to Miami, the door is open for Jack Coan to step up and take over the job after filling in late last season. There are others fighting for the job – including sophomore Danny Vanden Boom and freshman Chase Wolf. But Mertz is the star recruit with the talent to be a big star right out of the gate.