The Quarterback position is the most scrutinized job in all of sports.
They often get credit for wins and face the most criticism in defeat. That is true from the highest-profile NFL starter to even high school football.
ULM is no exception.
While the Warhawks have had some skilled quarterback play, the position has been marred by injury. There has only been one season since 2012 where the QB who began the season as the starter did not miss a game due to injury.
Smith began the season as the starter for the second straight year before suffering a season-ending injury against Texas State.
Redshirt Freshman Will Collins and True Freshman Caleb Evans both got playing time, but it was Evans who started the final four games of the season, winning two.
While these three quarterbacks are still relatively young, all three enter 2017 with game experience.
PROJECTED STARTER: GARRETT SMITH
While Evans and Collins are both talented, Smith bring intangibles that make him an invaluable part of the offense. He is dangerous in both the passing and rushing game. He has had his season ended early due to injury in both of his years starting. Smith is a competitor who wants to get every yard possible, which has been a double-edged sword. His toughness has been invaluable in operating the offense, but it has also caused his season to end early. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to be a top-5 quarterback in the Sun Belt.
WHO WILL PUSH SMITH
CALEB EVANS showed signs last season as a True Freshman that he could be a great Quarterback. He had good pocket presence and was extremely athletic running the ball on either designed runs or scrambles. He only threw 4 touchdowns compared to 6 interceptions, which is understandable for a true freshman. Evans can push Smith in practice and could be used in running situations.
WILL COLLINS took over for an injured Garrett Smith in the Texas State game and led the Warhawks to a victory. He struggled in his next starts at New Mexico and Arkansas State, however. Collins lacked consistency, completing less than 50% of his passes in 2016, but he is the most willing of the three quarterbacks to take a shot downfield.
JT JACKSON transferred in to ULM from Southeastern and will compete for a spot in the QB rotation. Jackson was a local star at Neville High School before going to Southeastern. Jackson looks like a prototypical quarterback, but will have to do a lot to pass up Evans or Collins.
IT WILL BE A SUCCESSFUL YEAR FOR QB’S IF…
There is consistency in the position. If Garrett Smith is able to stay healthy and continues to grow, the offense will go with him. If he gets injured or severely under-performs, it will be up to Evans or Collins to step up and lead the offense. With Coach Kubik’s emphasis on keeping a balance in the running and passing games, the QB’s don’t have to do a lot to carry the offense, just stay consistent and make big plays when needed.