"The competition is open" has become a favorite phrase of college football coaches, particularly when it comes to the quarterback position. In today's ever-evolving game, a team needs to identify the right fit for the player starting under center.
With spring practice in the rearview mirror, several teams have yet to identify a starting quarterback for 2013. Below I've listed some of the competitions that could play an important role in a team's outlook for 2013.
2012 Starter(s): Matt Scott
2013 Candidates: B.J. Denker, Jesse Scroggins, Anu Solomon
Edge? Denker ran with the first-team offense for all of spring practice, but the competition will heat up this fall with USC transfer Jesse Scroggins fully healed from offseason toe surgery and talented freshman Anu Solomon in the mix as well. Solomon appears to be quarterback of the future for Rich Rod's offense, but Denker, a senior, will try to make the most of his experience advantage.
2013 Candidates: Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson
Edge? Gus Malzhan's presence on the sideline brings expectation of improved offensive production, but he has yet to commit to either of the quarterbacks from a year ago. The Tigers' new head coach already made it clear that the competition could continue "three weeks or so" into fall camp, so that leaves time for junior college transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson to shake things up in the battle for the starting job.
2012 Starter(s): EJ Manuel
Edge? The Seminoles' competition to replace EJ Manuel took an unexpected turn after the spring game when redshirt junior Clint Trickett decided to transfer from the program. His exit leaves Winston, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback from the 2012 recruiting class, as the popular pick to start the season under center. But Jimbo Fisher has been reluctant to hand the reigns to the two-sport star -- Winston has been a key contributor as a closer and outfielder for the Top 10 baseball team -- until he competes against fellow redshirt freshman Jacob Coker this fall.
2012 Starter(s): Collin Klein
2013 Candidates: Jake Waters, Daniel Sams
Edge? Bill Snyder's past success with junior college transfers sets a certain expectation for Waters, the 2012 NJCAA offensive player of the year. Sophomore Daniel Sams has experience with the offense after backing up Klein a year ago, but Waters will have time to play catch up and challenge Sams before Snyder makes a decision in August.
2012 Starter(s): Mike Glennon
Edge? With Dave Doeren and offensive coordinator Matt Canada installing a new up-tempo system, both quarterbacks started from scratch in terms of experience with the offense. In fact, Doeren indicated that it was Thomas, a Colorado State transfer learning his third system in as many years, who lined up with the first team for the spring game because "his decision-making is a little further along."
2012 Starter(s): Landry Jones
Edge? Bell has the advantage heading into summer workouts, but he shared reps evenly with sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt Trevor Knight during spring practice. Much of Bell's game experience was in the run-first "Belldozer" package, so the 6-6, 263-pound junior needs to continue his development as a passer to win the job in fall camp.
2012 Starter(s): Tino Sunseri
Edge? Former Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage appeared to have the starting job locked up near the end of spring practice, but a late push and impressive spring game from Voytik. The redshirt freshman completed 27 of 33 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns against both first and second string defense in the spring game, adding some intrigue to a competition that will last into fall camp.
2012 Starter(s): Michael Rocco, Phillip Sims
Edge? With former offensive coordinator Bill Lazor off to the NFL, Sims gets a fresh start with Steve Fairchild after splitting duties with Rocco all season. Watford actually has the most experience from limited action in 2011 and a redshirt year in 2012, but Lambert, a redshirt freshman, looked impressive this spring and forced a three-way tie for the top spot on the Cavs' post-spring depth chart. Even though the coordinators have changed, London could easily decide to continue a rotation well into the regular season.
2012 Starter(s): Geno Smith
Edge? Millard has been Smith's backup since Dana Holgorsen's arrival in Morgantown, but he did nothing in spring practice to win the starting job over Ford Childress, a 6-foot-5, 224-pound redshirt freshman from Houston. Trickett joins the competition after earning his degree this spring and will be eligible immediately. The former Seminole has the most experience of the group, but Holgorsen plans to keep the competition open into preseason camp.
2013 Candidates: Curt Phillips, Joel Stave, Tanner McEvoy, Danny O'Brien, Bart Houston
Edge? By the end of spring practice, it appeared as though Phillips and Stave separated themselves from the group and each played the most significant snaps in the Badgers' spring game. Phillips ended 2012 as the starting quarterback, but Stave might be the better passer between the two. Gary Andersen's decision gets even tougher when junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy arrives on campus this summer.
Other quarterback competitions to follow into preseason camp
Cal: Zach Kline, Jared Goff -- Louisiana Tech had the nation's most productive offense under Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, so there is an established expectation for production for whoever wins this battle.
Oklahoma State: Clint Chelf, JW Walsh, Wes Lunt -- All three quarterbacks shared the starting duties in 2012 due to injuries, and all three quarterbacks topped 1,000 yards passing while collectively leading the Cowboys to an 8-win season.
Oregon State: Cody Vaz, Sean Mannion -- Mannion got the Beavers off to a 4-0 start before midseason knee surgery and a few turnover-prone games resulted in the first career starts for Cody Vaz. Vaz finished the season with five starts, including the bowl game, but competition will likely continue until the 2013 season opener.
Penn State: Tyler Ferguson, Christian Hackenberg -- Steven Bench's decision to transfer gave Bill O'Brien a clear front-runner for Hackenburg, the five-star prospect from Fork Union, to challenge this fall. Ferguson appears to be the No. 1, but the blue-chip will get a shot to compete in August.
South Carolina: Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson -- Shaw missed spring practice recovering from offseason surgery, though neither his return nor the start of the season might end the Gamecocks' quarterback shuffle.
Syracuse: Charley Loeb, Terrel Hunt, Drew Allen -- Allen arrives this summer with one year of eligibility after a transfer from Oklahoma. With no clear-cut starter at the end of spring practice, the coaches plan to give him a fair chance to win the job this fall.
Tennessee: Justin Worley, Nathan Peterman -- Worley and Peterman were the only scholarship quarterbacks in spring practice, but Butch Jones will wait until freshman Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson arrive on campus to stir up the race.
TCU: Casey Pachall, Trevone Boykin -- Most reports indicate that Pachall will regain his starting job, but coach Gary Patterson has been hesitant to declare a winner in the competition. Perhaps Patterson is waiting until the end of the offseason to demote Boykin to a backup role.
USC: Max Wittek, Cody Kessler -- Both redshirt sophomores saw action in 2012, but it was Wittek who got the start after four-year starter Matt Barkley suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Kessler reportedly had a strong spring, but no one expects Lane Kiffin to name a starter before fall camp.