Skip to main content

Six quarterback battles to watch in the Big Ten


Big Ten teams begin fall camp next week, and half of the league's 12 squads will be looking for a starting quarterback.

Illinois (senior Nathan Scheelhaase), Michigan (junior Devin Gardner), Minnesota (sophomore Philip Nelson), Nebraska (senior Taylor Martinez), Northwestern (senior Kain Colter, with a heavy dose of junior Trevor Siemian) and Ohio State (junior Braxton Miller) are set at the position. Here's a quick look at the league's other teams and their quarterback situations.

Indiana: It will be a three-way battle between junior Cameron Coffman (6-foot-2, 203 pounds), sophomore Tre Roberson (6-0, 200) and sophomore Nate Sudfeld (6-5, 234). Coffman is the steadiest, Roberson the most elusive and Sudfeld probably has the highest ceiling. Roberson began last season as the starter but broke his leg in the second game -- Coffman, a junior college transfer, started the rest of the way. "For our program to win, have the year we're capable of having, we need to be dynamic at quarterback," said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. "We can't be average (at the position) and let the complementary pieces give us the victories."

Iowa: It's another three-way battle, this one between redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard (6-2, 195), sophomore Jake Rudock (6-3, 205) and junior Cody Sokol (6-2, 215). None has taken a snap in a college game -- Sokol redshirted last season after transferring from junior college. Rudock played at powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and had the strongest spring. He does everything relatively well but doesn't stand out in any category. Sokol threw for 3,807 yards and 43 TDs at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College in 2011. Beathard looks to be the No. 3 guy entering camp.

Michigan State: Senior Andrew Maxwell (6-3, 209) is the returning starter, but he was mediocre last season and must hold off sophomore Connor Cook (6-4, 215). Cook saw scant time last season, but did lead the game-winning drive at the end of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Coaches praised Maxwell during spring practice, but Cook outperformed him in the spring game. Still, this is Maxwell's job to lose.

Penn State: No quarterback on the roster has taken a college snap. The contenders are junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson (6-3, 213), who enrolled in January and went through spring practice, and highly touted true freshman Christian Hackenberg (6-3, 218), who just arrived on campus. Hackenberg has the bigger upside and the stronger arm. Ferguson was OK during spring ball, nothing more. The schedule isn't all that daunting early in the season, which will enable the new starter to ease into the job.

Purdue: Fifth-year senior Rob Henry (6-2, 200), whose injury-curtailed career has covered only 22 games, will vie with true freshman Danny Etling (6-3, 215), who enrolled early and went through spring drills. Henry used to be an excellent runner, but injuries have robbed him of some of his quickness. Etling has a nice arm and knows how to move around in the pocket -- he had a strong spring and could provide new coach Darrell Hazell with a nice building block for the future. Hazell wants to make a decision on the starter two weeks into camp.

Wisconsin: It's another three-man race, with junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy (6-6, 215), sixth-year senior Curt Phillips (6-3, 215) and sophomore Joel Stave (6-5, 227) the contenders. Wisconsin is going to remain a tailback-dominated offense, and new coach Gary Andersen prefers to have a quarterback who also can run. Stave started six times and Phillips five last season. Though he has had his right anterior cruciate ligament repaired three times, Phillips probably is the best runner -- he's a gritty guy who is spotty as a passer. Stave has a nice arm, but McEvoy probably is the best mix as a runner/passer. He began his career at South Carolina before transferring to Arizona Western Community College after his freshman season. McEvoy has three years of eligibility remaining.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content