Spring Quarterback Battles To Watch: Can Arch Manning Challenge Quinn Ewers?

    As practices begin across the country, which college programs have spring quarterback battles worth watching, and who are the current leaders?

    As spring practice kicks off nationwide in the coming days and weeks, all eyes are on tight quarterback battles at multiple programs. Fans want to know which quarterback battles to watch, and College Football Network has you covered.

    Here are some spring quarterback battles to watch.

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    Spring Quarterback Battles To Watch

    In the age of the transfer portal, we’ve seen an uptick in quarterback battles. Even the country’s best quarterbacks have to start over when they transfer to new schools, learn a new playbook, or gel with new teammates.

    As such, there are plenty of tight quarterback battles across the country, from some of the top Power Five schools to several interesting battles at Group of Five schools. Here’s where things stand at several schools heading into the spring.

    Oregon Ducks

    Front-runners: Dillon Gabriel & Dante Moore

    When Bo Nix went pro, it left a void in Oregon’s potent offense.

    However, it wasn’t shocking when Oklahoma transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel left the southwest for the Pacific Northwest in early December. Then, nine days later, UCLA transfer Dante Moore committed to the Ducks.

    Some assumed that Gabriel, who played the better of the two last season, would be the starter, but that doesn’t seem to be a foregone conclusion.

    Moore was a top-five recruit last year and flashed as a freshman despite relatively little talent around him. The two will battle it out in the spring. Gabriel has only one year of eligibility left, so it would be surprising if he doesn’t win the job, but Moore has the talent to push him.

    Ohio State Buckeyes

    Front-runner: Will Howard
    Challengers: Julian Sayin, Air Noland, Devin Brown, Lincoln Kleinholtz

    Whoever wins the Ohio State spring quarterback battle will have earned it. There are up to five guys all battling it out for the chance to be the signal-caller for one of the top teams in the country, including two freshmen.

    Will Howard is likely the frontrunner, as he had plenty of experience at Kansas State before he transferred last offseason. Howard threw for 2,643 yards and 24 yards in 2023, adding nine scores and 343 yards on the ground.

    After Kyle McCord announced his intentions to transfer, Devin Brown earned the start in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic but got hurt in the first quarter and gave way to Lincoln Kleinholtz, though neither lit it up against the Missouri Tigers.

    Air Noland was Ohio State’s prized quarterback recruit in 2024, ranked fifth nationally, and it seemed he would be the biggest challenger to Howard until mid-January.

    When Nick Saban retired, that changed. Julian Sayin, a top 10 overall recruit, requested release from his National Letter of Intent to Alabama and promptly transferred to Ohio State. Sayin, per people in the industry, has the talent to start as a true freshman and may be the biggest threat to Howard.

    This one will be interesting to watch, and if any quarterbacks enter the transfer portal in the spring window, it could give an indication of the direction of Ryan Day’s decision on his QB1.

    Michigan Wolverines

    Front-runner: Jayden Denegal
    Challengers: Alex Orji, Jayden Davis, Davis Warren, Jack Tuttle

    With all of the upheaval for the Michigan Wolverines, it’s somewhat surprising that we haven’t heard much about the impending quarterback battle.

    Jayden Denegal and Alex Orji have the most experience of the group, with a whopping 27 and 16 snaps, respectively, while Davis Warren and Jack Tuttle are the lurking seniors. Jayden Davis is the upstart freshman.

    MORE: Projecting the 2024-2025 College Football Playoff

    This one may not be sorted out for a while, so don’t be surprised if the Wolverines take this into the summer or even the fall.

    It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Wolverines actively searched for another potential starter in the spring transfer window, although the remaining options are beginning to dwindle. Jordan McCloud, linked to the program this offseason, committed to the Texas State Bobcats in late February.

    Wake Forest Demon Deacons

    Front-runners: Hank Bachmeier, Michael Kern

    The well-traveled Hank Bachmeier comes to Wake Forest as a sixth-year senior, and while his skills would seem to translate to Dave Clawson’s slow-mesh system, it still may take him time to acclimate.

    Enter Michael Kern, who has been with the Demon Deacons since 2019. He’s only thrown for 1,023 yards while serving as a backup, but he seemed to play well down the stretch last season.

    In the media, Bachmeier may be the frontrunner based on name recognition alone, but that isn’t necessarily the reality of the situation. Nothing is set in stone, and don’t be surprised if Kern pushes this into the summer months.

    South Carolina Gamecocks

    Front-runner: LaNorris Sellers
    Challenger: Robbie Ashford

    Typically, when a team loses its starting quarterback to the NFL and brings a transfer in with SEC starting experience, that transfer would be deemed the frontrunner. That’s not the case for the South Carolina Gamecocks, where Auburn transfer Robbie Ashford arrives without assurances of landing a starting position.

    South Carolina had several high-profile quarterback transfers on campus over the summer, and at least one left when Shane Beamer failed to promise a starting spot. That’s the challenge when the coaching staff is high on last year’s backup.

    LaNorris Sellers wasn’t the most highly-recruited quarterback last season, but South Carolina was all over him and flipped him from Syracuse. The Gamecocks knew they’d struck gold as soon as he made it to campus. In limited appearances last season, Sellers was phenomenal.

    While Beamer has played up the competition, this is Sellers’ team, barring an incredible spring from Ashford or a substantial second-season slip from Sellers. Look for the enormous redshirt freshman to be one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC this season.

    Texas Longhorns

    Front-runner: Quinn Ewers
    Challenger: Arch Manning

    While this is Quinn Ewers’ job to lose, the leash is a little shorter when the backup is a former No. 1 overall recruit. Arch Manning is a future star, but Ewers played well last season and has an NFL arm.

    KEEP READING: Where Does Texas Feature in the 2024 SEC Power Rankings?

    Can Ewers take his game to the next level when it’s possible that the defense and skill positions take small steps back? If the returning starter slips, Manning is lurking in the wings. Until then, though, it’s Ewers’ job to lose.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!


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