Photo courtesy of Texas Athletics
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) - By this point in the summer, most teams have named a starting quarterback for the upcoming season, but a few squads are still unsure of who is going to lead their team come week one.
While some guys currently appear at the top of their respective team's depth chart, the competition is still pretty fierce so anything can happen.
UCLA - With regard to experience alone, Kevin Prince would have a handle on this job, no questions asked. The senior has seen action as a starter in each of his first three years as a Bruin. He has struggled to stay healthy however, after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in 2010, which caused him to miss time as both a sophomore and junior. Even when Prince is on the field, he has been average at best, tossing 23 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. 2011 was his best season yet in terms of completion percentage (.563) and touchdowns (12), but those modest numbers do not guarantee his return as the starter.
Though he lost out to Prince in last year's quarterback battle, Richard Brehaut made the most of his opportunities under center in 2011, throwing for 948 yards and six touchdowns to just one interception in seven games. The senior also filled in for an injured Prince in 2010 and set a school record for completions in a game with 33 against Arizona State, so the new coaching staff led by Jim Mora, Jr. should have confidence that he has the experience to take over the job full time.
Don't count out sophomore Brett Hundley. Though he didn't see action during the 2011 season, Hundley was a highly-touted high school quarterback -- Arizona's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009 -- and he has been making a big impression in camp this year.
FLORIDA - The Gators attempt to bounce back from a disappointing 7-6 season in 2011, a year in which John Brantley was modestly effective, but far from great (.600 completion percentage, 2,044 yards, 11 touchdowns, 7 interceptions).
With Brantley graduating, a pair of sophomores have been duking it out for the starting gig. Jacoby Brisket played in seven games (two starts) as a true freshman in 2011 and experienced plenty of growing pains, completing just 18- of-39 passes for 206 yards while throwing for two touchdowns and four interceptions. The silver lining around those numbers is that his two starts came against formidable competition, facing off against No. 1 LSU and No. 24 Auburn in back-to-back weeks.
Jeff Driskel saw less time last season but was as ineffective as Brisket, going 16-of-34 for 148 yards, zero touchdowns and 2 interceptions in five games worth of action. Both players were highly regarded coming out of high school, but Driskel has a leg up in terms of pedigree, as he won the Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year in 2010 and was rated the No. 1 high school quarterback in the nation by more than one source.
OREGON - One of the top programs in the nation last season, the Ducks lost starting quarterback Darren Thomas when he declared early for the NFL Draft, and they will try to replace his school-record 33 touchdowns in 2011 with one of two unproven signal-callers this fall.
Returning backup Bryan Bennett appears to be the safer choice, as he filled in for an injured Thomas last season against Colorado and was impressive in throwing for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Oct. 22 win. In fact, Bennett made the most of all of his opportunities in 2011, throwing 6 touchdowns against zero interceptions.
Marcus Mariota saw no snaps as a freshman and was ultimately red-shirted in 2011, but he has shown a much higher ceiling than Bennett with his performance in spring camp. In UO's spring game, the 6-4, 190-pound native of Hawaii went 18-of-26 with a touchdown, but he made a lasting impression with his legs, rushing for 99 yards and two scores. The Ducks have won three straight conference championships and have the pieces in place to make another run in 2012, so this quarterback decision by head coach Chip Kelly will have a direct impact on their BCS aspirations.
TEXAS - Mack Brown administered a two-quarterback system in 2011 with freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy each getting a crack at running the offense. The results were less-than-stellar, resulting in an 8-5 record, and while it was an improvement over the Longhorns' 5-7 mark in 2010, it was still a disappointment.
Ash took the majority of the snaps last season but failed to impress for the most part, completing 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,068 yards while tossing twice as many interceptions (8) as touchdowns (4). Ash did manage to bring an extra facet to the game with his legs, gaining 291 yards and scoring touchdown via the run.
In fewer opportunities, McCoy proved to be more effective through the air, topping his teammate in terms of passing efficiency (132.3), completion percentage (.614), touchdowns (7) and interceptions (4). He also set the school record for most consecutive passes to start a career without throwing an interception with 124. Of course, being the brother of former Longhorn great Colt McCoy certainly doesn't hurt his chances.
The dark horse in this race is freshman Connor Brewer, who was a Prep All- American a year ago and is the only quarterback in Arizona history to win three state championships. He also threw 100 career touchdown passes in three years as a high school starter, which is also a state record.
STANFORD - It's no surprise that neither Brett Nottingham nor Josh Nunes garnered many opportunities to show their skills on the field over the last few seasons serving as backups to Andrew Luck. But with Luck now in the NFL, one of the two will have to try and fill his enormous shoes.
Nottingham was Luck's primary backup in 2011 and he saw minimal action in six games, going just 5-of-8 for 78 yards and a touchdown. Nunes is even less experienced, as he has attempted just two passes in his two-year career at Stanford.
Nunes, a senior, earned the majority of the snaps in Stanford's spring game and threw for 167 yards and two scores, but did so on just 11-of-29 passing, while the junior Nottingham completed one more pass (12) on ten fewer attempts (19) for 118 yards. Regardless of who gets the nod, it's expected that the Cardinal will spend the next couple of years in rebuilding mode following the record- setting Luck era.