Quarterback battles are the talk of spring ball. Well, all battles really, but the quarterbacks get the most attention. Some big names departed the college football world, meaning there are opportunities for new faces to introduce themselves. Which teams have the most intriguing quarterback battles to watch? We break down the top battles from each conference.
AAC: SMU Mustangs
Participants: Preston Stone, Tanner Mordecai
Sonny Dykes has quietly brought in some great talent, and his two options at quarterback are evidence of that. Mordecai transfers in from Oklahoma, where he sat behind NFL first round picks for his whole career. Stone is a four star recruit with plenty of talent himself to win the starting job. Mordecai's experience in an Air Raid offense gives him the edge here, but this one might not be decided until the fall.
ACC: Florida State Seminoles
Participants: McKenzie Milton, Jordan Travis, Chubba Purdy, Tate Rodemaker
Travis, Purdy, and Rodemaker all rotated in the starting job for the Seminoles last year, with varying levels of success and consistency. Travis can be explosive in the run game with the ball in his hands, but teams quickly figured out that they just need to take that part of his game away from him. Force him to throw, and the game shifts in the opponents favor. Milton brings over 10,000 yards of experience to Tallahassee, and will give these three a season to watch and learn from one of the best. Travis and Purdy could be used to run the football for a different look, but it should be Milton who wins the starting job as long as he's 100% healthy.
Big 12: Texas Longhorns
Participants: Casey Thompson, Hudson Card, Charles Wright
If you're a Longhorns fan and haven't watched what Steve Sarkisian did at Alabama last year, you need to check that out. It's not to say that's what he'll do at Texas in 2021, but that's a glimpse of the ceiling they can reach. Sarkisian's first task as Texas head coach (outside of how to handle the booster issue) is to find Sam Ehinger's replacement. The Texas great moved on to the NFL, and there's not a ton of experience behind him. Thompson and Card played sparingly last year, but must learn a new system along with incoming freshman Wright, so this one's as wide open as any.
Big Ten: Ohio State Buckeyes
Participants: C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller, Kyle McCord
Justin Fields kept the Buckeyes as a national contender and has now moved on to the NFL, meaning one of the most talked about battles in the country now begins. Stroud and Miller have familiarity with the Buckeyes offense, but McCord was highly recruited out of high school and is extremely talented (he also enrolled early). Ohio State has an incredible lineage of quarterbacks, and one of these guys is in line to be the next in line to continue that tradition. Oh and they get to throw to Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Not a bad reward if I don't say so myself.
Independent: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Participants: Drew Pyne, Jack Coan, Brendon Clark, Tyler Buchner, Ron Powlus III
Pyne and Clark are a combined 2-for-5 for 12 yards rushing with two carries for zero yards. Buchner, a four star dual threat, and Powlus III, a three star pro-style quarterback, will join the competition as well. Wisconsin transfer Coan suddenly finds himself as the veteran at his position, and should be the guy to take over for Ian Book. Coan showed his potential as a junior for the Badgers, throwing 18 touchdowns, and now can remind everyone of how good he can be under Brian Kelly.
Conference USA: Charlotte 49ers
Participants: Chris Reynolds, James Foster
Let's be clear, this is Reynolds job to lose. Foster comes in from Texas A&M as a talented player, but he has to go above and beyond to overthrow Reynolds. Charlotte's a team to watch in the fall, and it will be interesting to see what Foster can do with the first team offense. For now, he'll push Reynolds, which should elevate his play as well.
MAC: Central Michigan Chippewas
Participants: Daniel Richardson, Ty Brock, Jacob Sirmon, David Moore
Moore missed the 2020 season due to a suspension, and his absence was felt. Richardson and Brock went back and forth running the offense, but neither found much consistency. All three must compete with Washington transfer Sirmon, who towers over all of them at 6'5", 240 pounds. Jim McElwain's had some big quarterbacks with good arms in the past, and it seems he's found another in the former Husky.
Mountain West: Boise State Broncos
Participants: Hank Bachmeier, Jack Sears
Bachmeier is the starter for Boise State, make no mistake about that. However, his healthy put the Broncos in a tough spot the last two years. Enter Sears, the former USC transfer who played hero for his new team in a 49-30 win over Air Force with his 280-yard, three touchdown performance. Bachmeier is the most talented quarterback on the Broncos roster, but Sears will push him for starting time. Given the past, it's a smart move. Protecting Bachmeier better will still be a priority for this team, but having a backup option in case he goes down is a great insurance. Who knows, maybe Sears shocks us all and wins the job outright.
Pac-12: Oregon Ducks
Participants: Anthony Brown, Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield, Robby Ashford, Bradley Yaffe
With Tyler Shough transferring to Texas Tech, the Ducks will have a new starter in 2021. Shough won the job early in 2020, but struggled as the season progressed. Brown, a transfer from Boston College, saw more playing time towards the end of the year, and all signs point towards a battle with incoming freshman Ty Thompson. Brown's experience should give him the edge in the spring, but fans will call for better play, so it will be an open competition until one of them shows why they're they guy.
SEC: Texas A&M Aggies
Participants: Haynes King, Zach Calzada, Eli Stowers
Texas A&M enters 2021 not only a contender, but a motivated one. Which means finding a quarterback to replace Kellen Mond becomes the most important team. After a snub from the College Football Playoff Committee, and a disappointing bowl performance, the Aggies have plenty of bulletin board material to get them through the year. King and Calzada got to watch Mond operate last year, and incoming four-star Stowers will push them for time. The winner gets to work with a plethora of talent at the skill position, so becoming a distributor even gives the Aggies what they need.
Sun Belt: Arkansas State Red Wolves
Participants: Layne Hatcher, James Blackman
Hatcher's reward for seeing Logan Bonner transfer to Utah State? Another quarterback battle. Former Seminole Blackman comes to Jonesboro and will give Hatcher, a former Alabama transfer, a run for his money. Blackman took a beating at Florida State, which probably attributed to most of his struggles, but gets a fresh start with the Red Wolves. He has the arm talent to win the job, so there's no resting on his laurels for Hatcher.