|David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes are the top contenders to start at quarterback for Texas.|
Before a snap is taken in the NFL, eyes around the league will undoubtedly be looking at Cleveland to see if either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel emerges as the Browns' starting quarterback. While college football doesn't have a quarterback competition that matches the intrigue of that one, it does have a number of potentially big battles.
With that in mind, College Football 24/7 identified 10 unsettled college football quarterback situations and we handicapped each race with a little more than a month to go before the start of fall camp. You won't find any schools on this list in which we pretty much know who the starter will be, even though one hasn't been named, such as Alabama and Jacob Coker. Instead, here are 10 compelling battles and who might emerge as the starter (teams listed in alphabetical order).
The contenders: Connor Brewer, Jerrard Randall, Jesse Scroggins, Anu Solomon
The skinny: Rich Rodriguez continues to operate a high-powered offense in the desert despite installing a new signal-caller every season he's been in Tucson (he's entering his third season with the school). Brewer transferred from Texas, but doesn't appear to be the ideal fit for the offense as he's not as mobile as the other candidates. He will take care of the ball, but has one of the weakest arms of all the contenders. Randall also transferred in and is the sort of elusive runner that is ideal to operate behind center for RichRod. He still is behind in learning the offense, but he has a chance to see some playing time. Solomon is the youngest of the bunch and would be good news for RichRod's future if he wins the competition. Plus, he has a good blend of all the attributes RichRod looks for in a QB. However, Scroggins is likely the favorite, as he came close to unseating B.J. Denker last spring. He has a big arm and moves around well enough for somebody his size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds). With a plethora of wide receivers on the Wildcats' roster, it wouldn't be surprising if the staff opts for the best passer of the bunch.
The pick: Scroggins
The contenders: Jarred Evans, Gunner Kiel, Munchie Legaux
The skinny: A junior college transfer, Evans might be the long shot to win the starting job, but he's not completely out of it. He struggled in the spring, as he was learning the offense and is clearly behind the other two in the competition. Kiel has a great grasp of the offense -- he had to sit out a year after transferring and looked very sharp during the Bearcats' spring game. Legaux is still recovering from a horrific knee injury he suffered last year and is a bit of an unknown despite being a starter last year. Don't be surprised if Tommy Tuberville has Kiel start the opener and allows Legaux to rotate in at times if he's healthy and can run at full speed in the fall.
The pick: Kiel
The contenders: Cole Stoudt, Deshaun Watson
The skinny: After Chad Kelly moved on from the Tigers, the race to replace Tajh Boyd became a two-man competition. Stoudt is the experienced senior who seems to be a great fit for offensive coordinator Chad Morris' system as a more prototypical drop-back passer. Watson is a hotshot recruit who will push Stoudt and has the talent to start -- he provides a different dynamic under center. He enrolled early in the spring, but hurt his collarbone. Given the early season schedule, it's tough to see head coach Dabo Swinney going with anybody but Stoudt, and he's hinted as much by naming him the starter "heading into fall."
The pick: Stoudt
Top college QBs to watch in 2014Take a look ahead to the 2014 college football season with the best quarterbacks to follow this fall.
Illinois Fighting Illini
The contenders: Aaron Bailey, Wes Lunt, Reilly O'Toole
The skinny: Nobody has a good handle on who will start, so this definitely is a battle that should extend into fall camp. O'Toole, a senior, made a good case during the spring -- he outshined his competition with a good spring game. Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt is probably the best all-around option, but he still hasn't found a rhythm. Bailey adds more of a rushing threat than the other two but is looking to show he's a complete quarterback for head coach Tim Beckman.
The pick: Lunt
The contenders: Drew Barker, Reese Phillips, Patrick Towles
The skinny: This seems to be more of a two-man race as Phillips wasn't mentioned by head coach Mark Stoops as much as the other two during the spring. Towles is a big kid with a big arm who looked uneven when he saw game action in 2012 and redshirted in '13. Barker is slightly smaller, but is a true freshmen who enrolled early and has plenty of upside as a highly recruited signal-caller. There's long-term upside in going with Barker and the other two candidates didn't really put any distance between themselves and the new guy.
The pick: Barker
The contenders: Brandon Harris, Anthony Jennings
The skinny: Hayden Rettig was the odd man out after the spring and moved on to Rutgers. That left it to Jennings, who saw action last season, and Harris. The latter is an early enrollee true freshman who dazzled in the Tigers' spring game and has many thinking he has what it takes to win the job. It seems too close to call at this point, but both have the opportunity to play in Cam Cameron's offense early on.
The pick: Harris
The contenders: Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs, Nathan Peterman
The skinny: Head coach Butch Jones has been preaching competition and it wouldn't be all that shocking if this one lasted all the way until the season opener. Riley Ferguson surprisingly transferred out after the spring game despite still being in the running, so it's a three-man race now. Worley started seven games last year and has the biggest body of work. Dobbs is a smart signal-caller who showed several flashes during his four starts in 2013 and likely has the biggest upside of the trio. Peterman has experience but seems to be behind the other two.
The pick: Dobbs
The contenders: David Ash, Jerrod Heard, Tyrone Swoopes
The skinny: It wouldn't raise too many eyebrows if Ash were named the starter, but his history of concussions and other injuries makes him a question mark until he trots out onto the field for the opening game. Swoopes has the size and legs to make an impact, but he's looked shaky throwing the ball and doesn't operate the offense as smoothly as others. Harris is a freshmen many consider the future of the program and he should be able to make a dent on the depth chart in the fall if he doesn't win the starting job.
The pick: Ash if he's healthy. Heard if Ash can't go.
Texas A&M Aggies
The contenders: Kyle Allen, Kenny Hill
The skinny: Who will replace Johnny Manziel? The player who gets the nod has some big shoes to fill. Matt Joeckel bowed out and transferred to TCU to make this a two-man race between Hill, a sophomore, and Allen, a true freshman. Like Manziel, Hill made the headlines earlier this year for an off-the-field incident, but he's not out of the running to be the starter and provides more of a dual-threat option for head coach Kevin Sumlin. Allen enrolled early to compete in the spring and the five-star quarterback has by all accounts looked very good during practices. Sumlin isn't afraid to make a bold move and Allen seems like a perfect fit for his offense.
The pick: Allen
Virginia Tech Hokies
The contenders: Michael Brewer, Chris Durkin, Mark Leal, Brenden Motley
The skinny: Logan Thomas has moved on to the NFL and head coach Frank Beamer has several options for his replacement. Leal and Motley were the only two around in the spring, but neither really stood out -- both looked mediocre in the team's spring game. Brewer, a Texas Tech transfer, might have the best shot at unseating the two with his arm and experience, while Durkin will come in as a freshman over the summer. It seems like he's destined for a redshirt.
The pick: Motley
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.