ACC Quarterback Battles To Watch
By Matt Phifer
With spring practice around the corner for most ACC schools there are a number of quarterback battles to watch.
Clemson may have the most interesting battle brewing between senior Cole Stoudt and redshirt sophomore Chad Kelly. Stoudt was officially the backup in 2013 and had the highest completion percentage (80) of any quarterback in the country (minimum 50 passes). Kelly is considered a better runner than Stoudt, and some think he's a better runner than Tajh Boyd, which means he could be a better fit for Chad Morris' offense. Yet, this battle could possibly end in a tie as Dabo Sweeney has said he is open to a dual-quarterback system.
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino has the difficult task of replacing Teddy Bridgewater. Backup Will Gardner is a pro-style quarterback who many will view as the frontrunner, especially considering Petrino's use of pro-style quarterbacks like Brian Brohm. Yet incoming freshman Reggie Bonnafon is the seventh-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country according to ESPN and 247Sports. Bonnafon offers Patrino the opportunity to build up a quarterback like he did with Brohm. Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson, who followed Petrino to Louisville after originally intendning to transfer to Western Kentucky, must sit out in 2014, but could be in the mix for the starting job in 2015 if Gardner is the quarterback in 2014.
Wake Forest has a trio of talented quarterbacks vying for the opportunity to replace the outgoing Tanner Price. Pro-style quarterbacks Price and Riley Skinner started the majority of Wake Forest's games between 2006 and 2013, which makes the current battle even more interesting considering all three are dual-threat quarterbacks. Tyler Cameron has limited experience and completed 7-of-14 in his three appearances in 2013. Incoming freshmen Travis Smith and John Wolford may be the future. Both threw for more than 3,000 yards as seniors in high school. Smith, who threw 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions as a senior in high school, went 41-0 as a starter, leading his team to three consecutive state titles. Cameron has the advantage of spring practice since Smith and Wolford won't arrive until the summer.
Virginia Tech is trying to revamp its offense and fifth-year senior Mark Leal will be the leading candidate for the starting job heading into 2014. Leal left an opening for a challenger when coming up flat in his big chance to prove himself in the Sun Bowl, where he went 12-of-25 with two interceptions after replacing Logan Thomas in a 42-12 loss to UCLA. The recent announcement that Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer will be transferring to Virginia Tech for his last year of eligibility raises the stakes for Leal, who will have a chance to prove himself in spring practice before Brewer arrives in May. Brewer went 34-of-48 for 375 yards in 2012 before a back injury sidelined him in 2013.
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