There will be five quarterbacks starting their first opening day when the 2013 Football Season opens up in the Big 10. There will also be 4 seniors taking the field for the last time as a college football player when the season ends. Here is the buzz around the quarterback position at all 12 Big 10 schools, and how they rank against their peers.
12. Jake Rudeck, Sophomore, Iowa: No team in the country had as many injury problems as the Hawkeyes last season. It seemed like if a running back to a visit to Iowa City he tore his ACL. The only one consistent was senior quarterback James Vandenberg. He’s now gone. Insert Florida native Jake Rudeck. He really didn’t wow anyone with his performance in the Iowa Spring Game. One bright spot is he does move well in the pocket, and has good pocket presence. It could be another long season in Iowa City if he can’t find anyone to throw to. Kevonte Martin-Manley can not be a one man show again this year.
11. Christian Hackenberg, Freshman/Tyler Ferguson, Junior, Penn State: Penn State will not be running a 2 quarterback system this year. There is just no telling who will be Matt McGloin successor. Tyler Ferguson is a junior college transfer, and Christian Hackenberg is a 5 star prospect that will not arrive in Happy Valley until the fall. All signs point to Hackenberg being the starter if he is the real deal.
10. Rob Henry, Senior, Purdue: Henry will replace a 2 quarterback system of Robert Marve and Caleb Terbush from a year ago. He will also be the first starter under first year head coach Darrell Hazell . Henry did throw 38 passes a year ago, he completed 21 of them (55%) for 3 scores and 1 interception. He will be the loan gunslinger in West Lafayette this year, unless an injury occurs. There is not much depth behind him.
9. Phillip Nelson, Sophomore, Minnesota: Nelson was forced into action as a freshman last year due to injury. He started off hot. He through 6 touchdowns in his first 3 games. Then he cooled off until the bowl game. Nelson can get the job done, and has a high ceiling. He ended up with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions last season. He has dual threat potential, and will more than likely need that extra gear if there is no improvement to Minnesota’s offensive line.
8. Andrew Maxwell, Senior, Michigan State: After a rough first season as the Starter in East Lansing, Andrew Maxwell’s starting spot is far from secure. Sophomore Connor Cook and redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor were hot on Maxwell’s tail in the spring, and will continue to push for playing time in the fall. Maxwell threw just 13 touchdowns to 9 interceptions last season. After having four years of Kurt Cousins, Spartan fans were very disappointed in Maxwell’s performance.
7. Nathan Scheelhaase, Senior, Illinois: Scheelhaase has one of the biggest upsides of any quarterback in the Big 10. He has not been the most productive signal caller, but has shown the ability to be a special player. Scheelhaase completed 60% of his passes in 2012. Throwing only 4 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He has battled injury, and been named a bowl game MVP. He will be a senior this season and needs to make his mark before he leaves Champaign.
6. Joel Stave, Sophomore, Wisconsin: Without Russell Wilson, Wisconsin turned to Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien. O’Brien struggled through the first 5 games. With the competition heating up in practice, Stave, a walk on, took over the reigns and helped turn the Badgers season around. A season that started with a 3-2 record and ultimately landed them in the Rose Bowl. Stave will be the man going forward in Madison. He finished 2012 with a 58% pass completion rate and 6 touchdowns in limited play. Look for Stave to throw the ball more with new head coach Gary Anderson’s system.
5. Tre Roberson, Sophomore, Indiana: One thing that can be said about Indiana head coach, Kevin Wilson is he sure can coach quarterbacks. Roberson looked to be a great piece to Indiana’s offense before breaking his leg last season. He is healthy, and could be the Big 10 New Comer of the Year this year. The 6-foot-1, 190 lb. sophomore still has a lot of developing to go through, but he showed flashes of brilliance in his first two games as the Hoosiers starting QB. If he can return to that form after his injury, the future is bright for Roberson, Wilson, and the Indiana program.
4. Kain Colter, Senior/Trevor Siemian, Junior: Unlike Penn State, the starter for Northwestern is already determined. Siemian will be the starter, but Colter will take snaps at quarterback, as well as line up as a slot wide receiver. Colter is such an amazing athlete he is a guy you want to touch the ball on every play. Siemian has the better arm, and will be the undoubted starter after Colter leaves. Northwestern is primed for a special season where there is no real clear cut No. 1 team in the Legends Division.
3. Devon Gardner, Junior, Michigan: Gardner is in the spot light after Denard Robinson has departed for the NFL. Gardner was one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the 2010 recruiting class. After moving to wide receiver to see playing time, Gardner was thrust into the starting roll after Robinson was injured against Nebraska last season. Gardner took over and did not disappoint. Throwing for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns over the final five games. In the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, Gardner completed 18 of 36 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
2. Taylor Martinez, Senior, Nebraska: Taylor Martinez has been at Nebraska half a decade. He has been the starter for 4 of those years. The California native is the all time leader in yards from scrimmage at the University, and he enters his senior season with out a Championship. Martinez has led his team to 2 Conference Championship games in 3 years, and has come up short in both. Last summer Martinez returned to his home-state of to work with Quarterback guru Steve Calhoun. Martinez’s mechanics, and accuracy dramatically improved from year 2 to 3. Martinez will return to California this year, and would like to make even more improvements to his game with Calhoun mentoring him.
1. Braxton Miller, Junior, Ohio State: Miller is more than likely the front runner for the Heisman trophy this season. He led his team to a 12-0 record, and would have played for a National Title a year ago had it not been for NCAA sanctions by former players, and a former coaching staff. Miller will be the leader of the most powerful offense in the country, and in Urban Meyer’s scheme he is going to put up big numbers. Miller and Martinez will be in an arms race for who will lead the Conference in total yards this season. Martinez has superior weapons outside, but Miller has a better arm, and a better offensive line. The race for the No. 1 QB in the Conference by the end of the season will be interesting.
By Jimmie Allen
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