Top 5 QB Battles To Watch In ACC: Who Replaces Finley At NC State?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:09 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 1:09 PM UTC

The ACC is ripe with spring quarterback battles. Who gets the starting job at Miami? North Carolina? N.C. State? The top five first-team fights here. 

<p>The ACC is flush with 2019 spring quarterback battles, many among its most high-profile programs, including Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech. Here are the top five conflicts, including potential front-runners and CFP national championship odds.</p><h2>5. North Carolina (+200000)</h2><p><strong>Projected starter</strong>: Nathan Elliott</p><p>Returning head coach Mack Brown picked up a gem under center in his first early signing period in years, inking the No. 2 player in the Tar Heel state QB Sam Howell. Howell, a pro-style arm ranking third at his position nationally, is expected to play some as a true freshman, but the field is crowded. UNC had five different players take snaps last season with 2019 projected starter Nathan Elliott passing for 2,169 passing yards. The redshirt senior and former Mitch Trubisky backup is the most experienced, yet limits the offense by his lack of mobility and poor accuracy. His job is not cemented.</p><p>Chazz Surratt is Elliott’s main competition. The redshirt junior split time as a starter in 2017, but missed most of last season from a suspension for illegally selling team-issued shoes and a wrist injury. Surratt is the most athletic of the bunch, and could take the offense to its highest potential, but maturity and decision-making skills need to improve greatly.</p><p>Howell, Cade Fortin, and Jace Ruder makeup a trio of first years aiming for playing time. Howell is the future and will likely take snaps in four games before gaining the red-shirt tag. Howell’s arm strength and accuracy is the best on the roster, but needs experience to master the increased speed and complexity of the college game.</p><h2>4. Florida State (+10000)</h2><p><strong>Projected starter:</strong> James Blackman</p><p>Florida State’s much-anticipated 2019 QB battle between Deondre Francois and James Blackman is already settled. Head coach Willie Taggart dismissed projected starter Francois from the Seminoles a week ago, leaving the quarterback position a one-horse race for Blackman. Francois, the first-team signal caller two of the last three seasons, tossed for 2,731 yards, 15 TDs, and 12 INTs in a rocky 2018. Taggart dismissed the rising senior after a string of poor off-field conduct, including abuse allegations, marijuana possession, and a high-profile domestic dispute involving his then-pregnant girlfriend in January 2018. Blackman, who had entered the transfer portal in January, threw for 2,230 yards, 19 TDs, and 11 INTs as the 2017 starter.</p><p>Depth is now the biggest concern with Blackman the only scholarship QB on the roster. Taggart needs to pick up a graduate transfer quickly. A pickup such as Josh Jackson could compete for the starting job. Bet on it.</p><h2>3. Miami (+5000)</h2><p><strong>Projected starter:</strong> N’Kosi Perry</p><p>Inconsistency has plagued Miami at quarterback for years, and it was arguably the team’s worst position last season. No surprise new offensive coordinator Dan Enos says competition for the starting job is wide-open. “I don’t have a dog in the race,” Enos told a Miami-Herald reporter. “I didn’t recruit any of them and don’t know a lot of them very well. It’s a great chance for all of them to start over and put their best foot forward.”</p><p>N’Kosi Perry, who flashed periods of brilliance at times last season, is considered the first-team front-runner. The rising sophomore tossed for 1,091 yards, 13 TDs, and 6 INTs on 97-of-191 passing attempts in limited action, but was benched late in the year due to poor performance. Ohio State transfer Tate Martell is the primary competition, but his bid for 2019 eligibility is still undecided and considered a 50-50 prospect. Jaren Williams, Cade Weldon, and three-star recruit Peyton Matocha will get a chance to compete, but none are considered serious contenders. Whoever wins the starting gig will learn a new playbook and the chances of improved QB play in Coral Gables still appears a few years away.</p><h2>2. Virginia Tech (+10000)</h2><p><strong>Projected starter:</strong> Ryan Willis</p><p>Head coach Justin Fuente is scrambling for quarterback help. Two-year starter Josh Jackson announced he was transferring in late January. One week later, back-up Hendon Hooker followed suit. The duo makeup roughly eight high-profile departures from the Hokies this winter. What is going on in Blacksburg?</p><p>Former Kansas transfer Ryan Willis now is the primary option for the first team. Willis took over when Jackson went down with a season-ending injury last year, keeping Va. Tech’s 26-season bowl streak alive, but looked far from the answer for Hokie fans. Redshirt freshman Quincy Patterson is the only other scholarship QB on the roster. The four-star recruit is the future, and will likely get a shot at the starting gig with Fuentes’ seat growing warmer following a tumultuous offseason and a 6-7 record last year.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;&lt;a href=\"https://t.co/Z32PCK1w1S\"&gt;https://t.co/Z32PCK1w1S&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Because he's no longer with FSU&lt;/p&gt;— ATL Gator (@champton85) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/champton85/status/1093546507683418119?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;February 7, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n\n"}[/]</p><h2>1. N.C. State Wolfpack (+50000)</h2><p><strong>Projected starter:</strong> Bailey Hockman</p><p>Who will replace the NFL-bound Ryan Finley under center at N.C. State? It’s anyone’s guess, but do know the options are talented yet young. The first-team battle boils down to three underclassmen: redshirt sophomore Matthew McKay, redshirt freshman Devin Leary, and redshirt sophomore Bailey Hockman. True freshman Ty Evans is expected to redshirt.</p><p>Hockman, a Florida State transfer, might be the top option. He was rated the No. 11 pocket passer coming out of high school and competed against Francois and Blackman for the Seminoles’ starting gig. Leary, a former four-star recruit, is another pro-style arm, and like Hockman has few flaws. Both have better skills than third option McKay, but the latter is the more experienced (only one with a college game under his belt) and athletic.</p><p>The Wolfpack QB battle is arguably the most genuine in the nation. Whoever shines in spring wins the honors.</p>
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