For those readers wondering whatever happened to me, I went on a 2-week camping trip as I worked my way up from Flagstaff to Sequim for the summer via Utah and Yellowstone NP. I’ll be writing from the beautiful, but now to me oddly cloudy Pacific Northwest until early August when I begin my trek back down south.
In January of this year, Nick Montana transferred out of the University of Washington after one redshirt season and after serving as Keith Price’s backup last year, earning one disastrous start against Oregon State when Price was injured. A recruit with so much promise left so early because he saw a sophomore Keith Price in front of him on the depth chart and realized he might be sitting on the bench for the next two years before only getting his chance to be the starter in his final season of eligibility. Because he had already used up his redshirt season, Montana would have to sit out another year if he transferred to another FBS school. So, Montana decided to transfer to Mount San Antonio College in California, where after playing one season there, he could transfer to a school where he has a chance to earn the starting role for his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility.
So is the life as a college quarterback, where under normal circumstances there is only one player in that position on field at one time and if you are not the starter, you will not play. No other position, other than walk-on kicker or punter, is that situation so particularly true. Most FBS schools attempt to recruit one scholarship quarterback per year and usually have four QB’s on scholarship at any one time. Most teams try to have their quarterbacks staggered, so that when the starters graduate or get injured, there is a veteran backup ready to take over. In addition, you usually want your freshmen redshirting so they can learn the system while not using one of their years of eligibility.
A similar thing happened with Ronnie Fouch. He sat behind Jake Locker, until Locker’s broken thumb. Then, he started most of the disasterous 2008 season before returning to the bench for Locker’s junior season. Fouch then transferred to FCS Indiana State following the 2009 season upon recognition he would again sit on the bench again after Jake Locker announced he was not entering the NFL draft that year. Had Fouch stayed at UW, he would still have had to compete with Keith Price in his final season of eligibility for the starting job.
At many schools who properly stagger their QBs, the quarterbacks work their way into the starting role, often starting for two years at a time. In fact, if you look at the long and illustrious history of quarterbacks at UW, most of them started two years before heading to the NFL. But, what ultimately happens when a young (freshman or sophomore) QB earn the starting role, as Keith Price did as a sophomore, is that everyone under them realizes they will have a long wait and they may never even get the chance to start a college football game. Will the same thing happen to one of the potentially five QB’s on the Husky roster next year that happened to Montana did this past winter?
Going into the 2012 season, the Huskies will have four scholarship quarterbacks. Keith Price is a redshirt junior. Derrick Brown is a redshirt freshman. Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles will be true freshmen. The assumption most people make is that Derrick Brown will be the primary backup to Price this year, given that he has already used his redshirt and has more experience in Steve Sarkisian’s system than the two incoming freshmen. But, most people also believe that highly touted Jeff Lindquist (4-stars and #8 in the nation by Scout) is likely the heir apparent to the starting job when Keith Price eventually leaves for the NFL. Looking ahead, it would make sense that Steve Sarkisian would try and save Lindquist’s eligibility by redshirting him in 2012. But, if Lindquist is far-and-away a better backup than Derrick Brown in the fall and Price were to suffer an injury early enough in the season, Sarkisian could potentially decide to put him in if he felt it was giving the team the best shot at a successful season.
Then there is dynamic and athletic Cyler Miles. While local folks talk about Lindquist, the Colorado product was also rated 4-stars and ended up deciding between UW and USC. That’s some heady company and he would not have had a USC offer unless he could really play. It is certainly conceivable that Miles could beat out both Brown and Lindquist for the backup job. What is also conceivable is that Miles is probably less likely than Lindquist to redshirt because of his incredible athleticism. He is a dual-threat QB who could give Sarkisian some incredible play-calling options on the field if he were inserted as a WR or tailback on certain plays. He could be used in the “Wildcat” formation or slotted out wide, with defenses needing to respect his ability to catch, run, or throw. He could also be very useful on special teams, possibly even returning punts or kicks. Also, if he played next year and Lindquist redshirted, it would stagger the QB’s in terms of eligibility a bit better than they are currently.
If this scenario does indeed occur, with Brown as the primary backup, Miles used on special teams and special situations on offense, and Lindquist redshirts, then there would appear to be stability at the QB spot for the next year. The bigger question is what happens in 2013. There is the question about whether Keith Price will still be in Seattle when highly touted Troy Williams arrives in Montlake from Narbonne, CA. If Keith Price stays at UW for his final season, then the Huskies would potentially have five QB’s under scholarship at the same time. That is a lot. While Price’s record-breaking season last year (despite injuries) had people talking NFL, there is no guarantee that even another season like that would get him into the high rounds of the NFL draft. NFL scouts have worried about his size (a little short and skinny for most of their tastes) and his apparent proclivity for injury. He may need to put together two successful and injury free seasons to convince NFL teams to take a chance on him, despite his proven on-field success.
If Price were to leave after 2012, then there would certainly be a wide-open battle for the starting spot between Brown, Lindquist, and Miles, with the winner of the spot potentially being the starter in Montlake for the next 2-3 seasons (barring injury). But, the two losers of that battle would certainly need to start thinking about their options. Are they willing to stand on the sidelines with a clipboard for the rest of their career? If Price stays for 2013, then the problem is exacerbated even further with the arrival of Troy Williams. That log jam would make it unlikely that all four players would be willing to wait it out for the long term. The question is, who would be most likely to transfer? Obviously this is a matter of pure speculation. But, speculation is one thing I am quite good at. So, in Part II, I’ll examine the possibilities and come up with what I think is the most likely scenario.