The race for starting quarterback in Madison just got a lot more interesting.
Wisconsin’s starting quarterback, Joel Stave, is out for the rest of spring practices with a shoulder injury. Per a report by Jeff Potrykus of Wisconsin’s The Journal Sentinel, Stave had an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday night. The diagnoses has left him sidelined for spring ball.
Stave is hoping to be back for summer practice. But in the mean time, it opens the door for the other quarterbacks on Wisconsin’s roster.
Stave suffered the shoulder injury against South Carolina in the Capitol One Bowl, on the first of the year. He hasn’t fully recovered yet. But not all is lost, the Badgers’ cupboard boasts a few talented quarterbacks that can carry Wisconsin through spring practices. The next couple of months will determine whether one of these quarterbacks will be able to beat out Stave for the starting position.
Remember, the Badgers open the 2014 season against quite a daunting foe; the LSU Tigers. Thus, the quarterback position will have to be ready to go from the first snap of the season. Not to mention, the game is being played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX. Which is obviously vastly closer to LSU’s fan base than Wisconsin’s.
Over the next couple months, the Badgers will look to Tanner McEvoy, Bart Houston and D.J. Gillins to carry the load. If one can separate themselves from the pack, Stave will have his work cut out for him if he wants to be under center against LSU. Stave struggled with accuracy last year and, despite his grit and determination, is by no means a lock to keep his starting position.
Here’s a look at the other talented quarterbacks on Wisconsin’s roster.
Junior Tanner McEvoy:
To describe McEvoy in a word… athlete. He exceeded expectations playing safety in his sophomore season but this year is looking to get back to throwing the ball. He is the most likely challenger for Stave. He is a beloved player of Gary Andersen, who brought him in as a transfer. As expected, he is working hard and hoping to be handed the starting job for the season opener. McEvoy was a 4-star recruit that originally committed to South Carolina; he also had offers from Michigan, Miami (FL) and other big time schools. He is a dual-threat quarterback and stands at an impressive 6-foot-5. Andersen would definitely run some option-type plays with McEvoy at the helm. That is an intriguing thought to say the least.
Sophomore Bart Houston:
The common phrase associated with Houston is “big arm.” He is a prototypical in-the-pocket style Big Ten quarterback who stands at 6-foot-4. Some considered the three-star prospect as one of the most talented quarterbacks the Badgers have ever landed. Houston had offers from UCLA, Washington, Iowa and others but chose Wisconsin. If Houston is ever going to make his mark in Madison — this is the year. He is fairly mobile but not nearly as fast as the other quarterbacks that, currently, find themselves behind Stave on the depth chart. Could Houston find himself starting his first game for the Badgers in Houston, TX? Wouldn’t that be fitting.
True Freshman D.J. Gillins:
Gillins is the secret wish of many Badgers fans to take over the starting role at quarterback this year. He was one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks to come out of high school this year. Thus, Gillins is as exciting of a prospect that the Badgers have ever seen at quarterback. Although it would be quite a stretch to imagine a true freshmen starting his first ever game against the LSU Tigers; down in Texas no less. But he did enroll early at UW, so he’s put himself in a better position than just coming in over the summer. Gillins is 6-foot-3 and had offers from Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Arizona and others; but loved his visit to Madison and became a Badger. Like with McEvoy, the Badgers would certainly run options if Gillins was under center. It’s quite provocative to imagine a backfield that would feature Gillins, Melvin Gordon III and Corey Clement. That’s a hell of a lot of speed. And as everyone knows; in college football speed kills.
Will any of these quarterbacks put their mark on spring ball? Consequently throwing their hat into the ring of a two-way competition with Stave as summer practices unfold. Competition breeds improvement and improvement builds leadership. If leadership combines with the talent that all four of the Badgers quarterbacks possess, good things will happen. Which one will start in the season opener? Who knows, but the next couple months will certainly go a long way in making the answer to that question a lot more clear.
Here’s to hoping that at least one of these talented players step up and grow into a starting-caliber quarterback. If so, the Badgers will enter the 2014 season with amazing depth under center; whether Stave is the starter or not.