We’re less than two weeks from the start of the 2017 season, and some teams are still looking for a starting quarterback. How do the NCAA futures odds see those battles?
The turnover rate for college quarterbacks doesn’t exceed the turnover rates for the other positions. It just seems that way with the amount of focus put on signal-callers.
And so it was the very instant that Deshaun Watson helped lead Clemson to the national championship this past January, a quarterback battle began for the Tigers. Now plying his trade in the NFL for the Houston Texans, Watson leaves some very big shoes to fill for whoever takes his place under center for Clemson, and Bookmaker believes that person will be Kelly Bryant.
With Clemson nearly a 30/1 pick to repeat as national champs on their NCAA football futures odds, Bookmaker has Bryant installed as a -265 choice to claim first-team honors. The junior originally opened at -125 over freshman Hunter Johnson’s +160 wager after a somewhat shaky spring game for Bryant. Head coach Dabo Swinney likes what he has seen from Bryant during summer scrimmages, and that’s who we should see trot out for the opening offensive series Sept. 2 when the Tigers host Kent State. Johnson should also see action in that game and could overtake Bryant before the end of the season.
Zaire & Franks Frontrunners in Gainesville
Week 2 finds Clemson hosting Auburn in a twin-Tigers matchup, and Gus Malzahn also entered the offseason with a decision to make at quarterback. The incumbent, Sean White, was penciled in No. 1 in early spring scrimmages, but lost that slot to transfer Jarrett Stidham, Malzahn recently naming the sophomore from Baylor as his guy.
A couple of other QB battles are still being waged in the SEC. With recent suspensions, whomever gets the No. 1 job in Gainesville won’t have leading wideout Antonio Callaway to target when the Florida Gators take on Michigan at Jerry World in Week 1. Many expected Jim McElwain’s decision was going to be between a pair of redshirt freshmen, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, during spring drills. But Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire (-145) has pushed his way ahead of Franks (+180) at Bookmaker. A spring injury dropped Trask from the battle and lurking in the back is dark horse Luke Del Rio. My pick to run the first series of the season against the Wolverines is Franks.
Down in College Station, starting QB honors were Jake Hubenak’s to lose when spring camp opened, and it appears the senior has done just that for Texas A&M. Hubenak opened +135 for the job with redshirt freshmen Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond vying for the backup role. All indications are Starkel, now a +125 wager, will be under center for the first snap, but given how the quarterback position has been the last few years in Aggieland, there’s no reason to write down any name in ink. Don’t be surprised to see this battle linger into the season for the Aggies, who are 3-point underdogs on the college football odds when they begin the campaign at the Rose Bowl vs. UCLA on Sept. 3.