When Keith Price does eventually move on to the NFL, the question in this game of survival at quarterback is who will stay at Montlake for the duration and who will go the way of Ronnie Fouch and Nick Montana? Because only one quarterback can play at a time, there is often a matter of luck involved in whether you will get a chance to play. Will the QB ahead of you get injured? Will the QB ahead of you leave early for the NFL? Will a new coach reopen the QB competition and give you the chance the previous coach didn’t? Do you have other skills that makes you useful to the team?
Let’s examine each of the backup QB’s and address whether some of these factors could improve their chances of getting on the field and/or needing to transfer.
When Derrick Brown committed to UW, many people also heard about his talent as a punter. Some people speculated that maybe he might find his niche there, while being the backup QB to Keith Price. Some fans even fantasized about the idea of having a true QB back there punting who could keep defenses guessing on every punt (especially those near mid-field) that instead there would be a pass for a touchdown or a run for a first down. But, the Huskies have since brought in punter Korey Durkee from Gig Harbor for 2012 and kicker Cameron Van Winkle from Mount Si has committed for 2013 (who is apparently a very good punter as well). Thus, Brown’s opportunities for that spot seem greatly diminished, barring injury.
As I mentioned in Part I of the series, Cyler Miles is a dual-threat quarterback with a tremendous ability to run or throw. These skills could make him useful as a true freshman both on special teams and on offense. If he were on the field at the same time as Keith Price, he could be useful on reverses or out wide as a receiver, who could also throw downfield. He might also be used in the Wildcat formation. Miles might be able to follow in the footsteps of Isaiah Stanback and Eric Bjornsen, who were both recruited as QB’s to UW, but ultimately found jobs in the NFL as a wide receiver and tight end respectively. Often when these athletic dual-threat QB’s are being recruited, they really desire to play QB, even when the coaches see them being more effective at another position instead. Sometimes these athletes narrow their college choices based on which coach promises to keep them at the QB position, while others base their decisions more on the qualities of the program or location rather than the position projections. What Steve Sarkisian will choose to do with Miles is pure speculation at this point. But, if he has as much talent and athleticism as the reports say, he may find his route to the next level is actually at another position instead.
Jeff Lindquist is projected as more of a true pro-style QB. While Sarkisian has shown an ability to be somewhat flexible in working his offense to the skill set of the players he has, he has stated multiple times that what he would prefer from a quarterback is a tradition pro-style QB with an accurate and strong arm. Lindquist’s running ability is more limited than Miles, but he may fit Sarkisian’s offensive schemes better. If he is truly as good as most think he will be, he seems to be the heir apparent to take over the starting role from Keith Price. It seems unlikely, especially if he redshirts in 2012, that Lindquist would lose his chance to start and have to transfer when the time comes.
Then there is 2013 recruit Troy Williams. Steve Sarkisian knew that he didn’t have to sign a QB for this class, since he has three freshman already in the fold already. So, he had the option of being more selective in his recruiting. He only targeted some of the top QB’s in the nation. Sarkisian did lose Skyline’s Max Browne to USC (#1 QB in the nation) and Salt Lake City’s Cooper Bateman committed to Alabama after Doug Nussmeier left Montlake for Tuscaloosa. But, both were not huge surprises given the depth UW has at that position and the better opportunities those two have to play immediately at the other two schools.
Steve Sarkisian then decided to just focus his attention on one other QB, that of Narbonne, CA in Troy Williams. Ranked the #14 QB in the nation by Scout, Williams, like Price, is a little small for an NFL level QB being on 6’0″ and 168 lbs. But, Williams has an extremely accurate arm. And, also like Cyler Miles, is a dual-threat, with great mobility. Thus, even if he has to wait a little while to earn his starting role, he could find time on the field in other capacities.
Looking at this potential logjam at the QB position, the Huskies certainly have the good problem of a quantity of riches. But, it seems really unlikely that four QBs all within two years of each other will all be able to fit in and would be willing to wait their turn. Quarterbacks rated 4-star and in the Top 20 in the country are not going to a university to sit on the bench and hold a clipboard. So, while all of them will have the confidence that they can win the competition, not all of them will be able to do so. At some point, one or more of them will want to get their chance to shine and if it is not at UW, it’ll be somewhere.
Those who have the ability to contribute in other ways may be willing to stick it out. With the talent that Cyler Miles and Troy Williams bring, it seems like they will find a role in Sarkisian’s system, even if they are not starting QB’s to begin with. So, when examining who would be most likely to transfer, it comes to talented, but more limited QB’s like Derrick Brown and Jeff Lindquist. If Lindquist does redshirt in 2012, it will certainly limit his transfer options, and Brown has already done so. Often QB’s in this situation transfer to FCS or Division II schools because they do not have to sit out an addition year and can play right away. But, doesn’t it seem unlikely that a player ranked #8 in the country like Lindquist could end up at a Portland State or Central Washington?
Derrick Brown on the other hand was ranked #46 in the nation by Scout and was stated as having some issues with accuracy, despite his good footwork and mobility. To me, he would seem the most likely odd-man out. But, the key to this decision for him and the others is whether Keith Price were to enter the NFL draft after 2012 or return for the 2013 season. If Keith Price entered the NFL draft after this season, then there will be a wide-open free-for-all QB competition between Brown, Lindquist, Miles, and Williams for the starting role in 2013. In that scenario, I could imagine all four of them sticking around trying to win that competition, because players at this level have enough confidence to believe they can. Although, if after spring camp (Troy Williams says he will graduate early so he can be in spring ball next year), one of them ends up far down the depth chart, they may choose to transfer in during the summer.
But, if Price decides to stay for 2013, then the decision by one of them to transfer could come sooner because they would see yet another year sitting on the bench for sure. I hate to see someone leave UW, but the QB position is a very difficult situation when you have too many talented quarterbacks on the roster. But, it certainly is a good problem for Husky fans and coach Steve Sarkisian to have!
Of course, there is one other scenario that is just as plausible as anything else I wrote on here. All five of the quarterbacks on the roster may love Seattle and the University of Washington so much that they are willing to stick it out and be proud of being Huskies no matter what happens with their spot on the depth chart. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this competition develops…