Hot Reads: Catching up on the Big Ten QB Races
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker - USA TODAY Sports

Hot Reads: Catching up on the Big Ten QB Races

August 14, 2017

I can’t decide if a fall camp is more or less fun with a quarterback battle going on. From an observer’s standpoint, it sounds good on paper. High-profile battle at a position that naturally draws the most attention and will, at some point or another during most years, define a team’s season. Every question about the quarterbacks — and there are many — means one less general, “are you pleased with camp so far?” question, and that’s good, too.

On the other hand, those quarterback questions aren’t immune from the eternal-enthusiasm, everyone’s-improving, I-can’t-remember-another-camp-like-this answers that are the defining feature of all fall camps. You just put all of that stuff behind one or two (or even three) guys. If pressed, I’m going with it’s better — again, for the observers — not to have to play the QB shell game.

Husker fans can feel fortunate then that Nebraska dispensed with its race at the end of spring ball. There’s currently a (surprise?) race at backup quarterback, which seems like the ideal kind of quarterback race because it means a team has enough QBs to have one, which is never a given in this era.

Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin all either had starters returning or named a starter prior to the summer. Here’s a quick recap of where things stand at quarterback for the rest of the Big Ten.

ILLINOIS: A potentially messy QB situation got some clarity at Big Ten media days, where Lovie Smith named Chayce Crouch the starter. Illini fans seems to be excited by the move. Crouch only played in four games last year before suffering a season-ending injury, but he had the highest passer rating among those that played in 2016 and brings dual-threat capabilities to the table.

IOWA: No official word yet, but most of the Iowa media came out of Saturday’s scrimmage expecting sophomore Nathan Stanley to get the nod. A 3-star, pro-style quarterback out of high school, Stanley has only thrown nine passes in college so far (completed five). On Saturday he reportedly went 14 for 26 with 167 yards and three touchdowns.

MARYLAND: The Terrapins added North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson to the mix this spring, and from afar that seemed like a perfectly safe and reasonable option. But Maryland might prefer a little more danger/excitement behind center. According to the Baltimore Sun, sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome and true freshman Kasim Hill have been running with the top groups. Pigrome started a few games in 2016 and is a running threat, averaging nearly as many yards per carry (4.10, sacks included) as yards per pass (4.5). Hill, a 4-star QB from D.C., was a huge recruiting win for the Terps and is probably the future. But if the future is now, mark me down as mildly surprised by the move.

MINNESOTA: Here it is, hot off the presses — no decision. That’s what P.J. Fleck said on his radio show Sunday morning. The race is between senior Connor Rhoda, five games played, and sophomore Demry Croft, a dual-threat quarterback who made a handful of appearances in 2015 before redshirting last season.

RUTGERS: No official announcement yet, but it looks as though Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin has separated himself from the pack. True freshman Johnathan Lewis could also see some time if new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill is willing to go the change-of-pace route. He’s done it before and Lewis brings a running threat to the table.

The Grab Bag

  • Butch Jones wishes you would stop paying so much attention to his slogans.
  • Jim Harbaugh wishs you would stop asking him for a roster. That seems like a reasonable thing to have, however, so submitted a FOIA request. And was given the runaround.
  • Florida suspended seven players for the opener against Michigan, including one of the Gators’ top receivers.
  • ICYMI: The Hail Varsity staff recaps week two of fall camp.

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