10 College Football Playoff contenders facing critical quarterback competitions – Orlando Sentinel

10 College Football Playoff contenders facing critical quarterback competitions – Orlando Sentinel

Several programs left spring football camp with more questions than answers at quarterback. Here are 10 contenders with pressing quarterback competition heading into the summer:


It was undoubtedly a disappointing debut for Auburn coach Bryan Harsin, as the Tigers suffered their first losing season since 2012. Many people thought Bo Nix’s decision to transfer in the offseason cleared the way for TJ Finley to be the starter, but the addition of transfers Zach Calzada (Texas A&M) and Robby Ashford (Oregon) complicated matters. Finley and Ashford had strong springs, but Calzada hasn’t been able to showcase himself after coming off shoulder surgery.


Desmond Ridder guided Cincinnati to 32 wins, back-to-back American Athletic Conference titles and an appearance in the College Football Playoff, so finding his replacement won’t be an easy task for Bearcats coach Luke Fickell. After transferring to Eastern Michigan for one season, Ben Bryant returns to the program after passing for 3,123 yards for the Eagles. His challenger is Evan Prater, who spent last season as Ridder’s backup, and both players are well-versed in Cincinnati’s offense.


DJ Uiagalelei’s status as Clemson’s starting quarterback is clearly on shaky ground after a disappointing showing in 2021 when he finished with more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9). Not the type of performance expected from the apparent heir to Trevor Lawrence. To make matters worse, Uiagalelei struggled during the spring, opening the door for Cade Klubnik, the top QB signee of the 2022 class, to make a favorable impression among coaches and an impatient fan base.


With no clear picture at quarterback, new LSU coach Brian Kelly will spend the summer working through a crowded room of candidates. After briefly flirting with transferring, Myles Brennan returned to the program, making him a solid choice for a starter. Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels is a dual-threat option that could be appealing, but Garret Nussmeier’s strong showing in spring pushed the redshirt freshman into late consideration.


Cade McNamara guided Michigan to its first Big Ten Championship since 2004, which included snapping an eight-game losing streak to rival Ohio State and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. He finished with 2,576 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. Despite his impressive resume, McNamara’s challenger is sophomore JJ McCarthy, who showed flashes of potential last season but is recovering from a reported shoulder injury this spring.

Our Lady

New Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman begins his tenure with a crucial decision at quarterback, with either Tyler Buchner or Drew Pyne expected to win the starting nod this season. As a true freshman last season, Buchner appeared in 10 games, with the dual-threat quarterback combining for 634 yards of total offense. Pyne, who is an accurate passer, has appeared in six games during his two seasons, with 234 yards passing and two touchdowns.

ole miss

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has a tall order ahead of him, trying to find a replacement for Matt Corral. USC transfer Jaxson Dart arrived with many expectations, having passed for 1,353 yards with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions as a true freshman last season. Luke Altmyer was Corral’s backup, stepping up against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Both have had up-and-down spring camps, leaving some to wonder if a decision could come sometime in the fall.


New coach Dan Lanning isn’t without options for starting quarterback, especially with the addition of Auburn transfer Bo Nix. Nix has thrown for 7,251 yards with 39 touchdowns and 16 interceptions during his three seasons with the Tigers in the SEC, making him the early favorite. Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield spent time as backups with the Ducks, but strong showings in spring could make Lanning’s decision a little trickier.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that Steve Sarkisian’s decision on a quarterback could make or break his future at Texas. Sarkisian’s first season with the Longhorns was anything but disastrous after the team dropped six straight games late in the season. One of the top QBs over the past two seasons, Quinn Ewers, could give Sarkisian an elite signal-caller. Hudson Card has been here before, beating Casey Thompson for the job last season.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher faces a mountain of expectations entering his fifth season, with many believing the Aggies are on the cusp of being a College Football Playoff contender. Last season, the quarterback spot was somewhat of a mess after starter Haynes King broke his right tibia in Week 2. Transfer Max Johnson brings the most experience after finishing with 2,815 passing yards and 27 touchdowns at LSU, while freshman Conner Weigman was the second- best quarterback in the 2022 recruiting class.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.

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