7 Big Ten teams will extend QB competitions into preseason
By ERIC OLSON
The week started with nine of the 14 Big Ten teams coming out of spring practices planning to continue quarterback auditions in August. The number was down to seven by Friday.
First-year coach Ryan Day of defending conference champion Ohio State insisted after the Buckeyes’ spring game last Saturday he hadn’t decided between Georgia transfer Justin Fields and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin, who spent much of last season rehabbing a knee injury. Baldwin announced he would transfer on Thursday, erasing any doubt that Fields, the biggest acquisition of the offseason, would be the starter.
Penn State appears set to go with junior Sean Clifford after fifth-year senior Tommy Stevens entered the NCAA transfer portal. His father told the Centre Daily Times his son is “certainly leaving.”
Two incumbents in the East Division face challenges.
Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey is competing against redshirt freshmen Michael Penix Jr. and Utah transfer Jack Tuttle. Rutgers’ Arthur Sitkowski will try to hold off challenges from freshman Cole Snyder and possibly Boston College transfer Johnny Langan, who is applying for a waiver to become eligible immediately.
At Maryland, new coach Mike Locksley looked at Tyrrell Pigrome, Max Bortenschlager and Tyler DeSue this spring before Virginia Tech graduate transfer Josh Jackson arrives this summer.
Defending West Division champion Northwestern must replace four-year starter Clayton Thorson, and former Clemson backup Hunter Johnson is expected to have the inside track against fifth-year senior TJ Green.
Wisconsin freshman Graham Mertz has come on strong and is in position to beat out Jack Coan. The junior started four games in place of an injured Alex Hornibrook, who left for Florida State as a graduate transfer.
Zack Annexstad and Tanner Morgan, who split the job as freshmen, will continue their competition at Minnesota; and MJ Rivers, Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor are in a battle at Illinois with four-star freshman Isaiah Williams arriving in the fall.
Michigan’s offense, often criticized for being stodgy, is being revamped. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is putting in the no-huddle, spread system featuring lots of run-pass options.
“It’s night and day,” quarterback Shea Patterson said. “As far as the similarities, I think there are very few of them.”