Tracking college football's starting QB decisions: TCU going with K-State transfer Alex Delton

With the college football season around the corner, position battles at programs around the country are being decided. The position that attracts the most attention, of course, is quarterback. Below, we’ll keep a running list of the winners quarterback competitions throughout the sport.

TCU going with grad transfer Alex Delton

TCU started preseason practice with five quarterbacks competing to start. A few weeks later, Gary Patterson whittled it down to two: Alex Delton, a graduate transfer Kansas State, and true freshman Max Duggan, a four-star recruit from Iowa. On Tuesday, Patterson announced that Delton will start on Saturday against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Duggan will play as well, but Delton will open the game.

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Delton split time with Skylar Thompson at Kansas State and played in 20 games (six starts) overall. Delton was mostly featured as a runner. For his career, he has thrown for 1,202 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions to go with 868 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

Updated: Monday, Aug. 27 - 2:00 p.m. ET

Alex Delton, a graduate transfer from Kansas State, will open the season as TCU's starting quarterback. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Alex Delton, a graduate transfer from Kansas State, will open the season as TCU's starting quarterback. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Chad Morris going with familiar face at Arkansas

Quarterback play was a major issue at Arkansas during Chad Morris’ first season as head coach, so he brought in two transfers: Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel. Hicks played for Morris at SMU and Starkel had some starting experience at Texas A&M. On Monday, Morris announced that Hicks has received the starting job.

Hicks is SMU’s all-time leading passer. In three seasons he threw for 9,081 yards, 71 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The first two seasons were with Morris as head coach.

Updated: Monday, Aug. 26 - 1:30 p.m. ET

Matt McKay wins NC State job

After two years of backing up Ryan Finley, Matt McKay will take over at NC State. When the team put out its Week 1 depth chart, McKay, a redshirt sophomore was listed ahead of Florida State transfer Bailey Hockman and redshirt freshman Devin Leary, a four-star recruit in 2018.

The 6-foot-4 McKay saw action in six games in 2018, completing 7-of-8 passes for 87 yards with 36 yards and a touchdown rushing. McKay will make his first career start on Saturday against East Carolina.

Updated: Monday, Aug. 26 - 11:47 a.m. ET

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Indiana: Penix beats out Ramsey

Indiana coach Tom Allen announced Monday that redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. has beaten out incumbent Peyton Ramsey for the starting job. Ramsey has 16 career starts for the Hoosiers, but Penix, a former four-star recruit, beat him out for the top spot. Penix, a lefty, played in three games last fall, completing 21-of-34 passes for 219 yards and a score, before tearing his ACL vs. Penn State. Now healthy, Penix will get the nod in the season opener vs. Ball State.

Updated: Monday, Aug. 26 - 11:35 a.m. ET

Florida State going back to Blackman

Florida State was hurting for quarterback depth when it brought in Alex Hornibrook as a graduate transfer from Wisconsin. But FSU coach Willie Taggart also promised Hornibrook a chance to compete for the starting job. Hornibrook got his chance, but he was unable to move past James Blackman on the depth chart.

Blackman, who started in 2017 after the injury to Deondre Francois, was second-string behind Francois a year ago. But his time with the program — and new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles — gave him the edge over Hornibrook.

Updated: Monday, Aug. 26 - 8:38 a.m. ET

James Blackman has thrown for 2,740 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions at Florida State. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
James Blackman has thrown for 2,740 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions at Florida State. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Wisconsin: Jack Coan holds off heralded freshman Mertz

Graham Mertz, ranked No. 42 overall in the class of 2019, is the highest-rated recruit Wisconsin has ever signed in the Rivals.com era. Many expected him to emerge from preseason as the Badgers’ starter, but Jack Coan was able to hold him off. When Wisconsin released its Week 1 depth chart on Sunday, Coan was listed as the No. 1 quarterback.

Coan played in five games, starting four, while Alex Hornibrook dealt with concussion issues last year. He mostly handed the ball to Jonathan Taylor. When he did throw the ball, UW’s coaches kept things conservative. Coan completed 56-of-93 passes for just 515 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

Wisconsin opens the season on the road against South Florida on Friday night.

Updated: Sunday, Aug. 25 - 1:15 p.m. ET

Gordon holds off grad transfer at Washington State

Washington State had a ton of success with graduate transfer Gardner Minshew in 2018, so many expected Gage Gubrud, a grad transfer who put up huge numbers Eastern Washington, to get the nod for the Cougars in 2019. Anthony Gordon had other ideas. Gordon, a fifth-year senior who arrived at WSU in 2016 as a junior college transfer, was named the starter by Mike Leach on Saturday.

Gordon saw action in two games last fall, but impressed in spring practice. That strong play carried over to preseason camp and now Gordon will get the nod for the opener against New Mexico State on Aug. 31.

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 24 - 7:05 p.m. ET

Cal bringing back Garbers

At Cal, redshirt sophomore Chase Garbers beat out UCLA transfer Devon Modster to keep his starting job. Garbers started 10 games in 2018, but struggled with turnovers. He finished the year with 1,506 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 61.2 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 420 yards and two scores.

Cal, after going 7-6 in 2018, opens the 2019 season against UC Davis on Aug. 31.

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 24 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Boise State going with true freshman

After four years of Brett Rypien, Boise State is rolling with a true freshman when it opens its season against Florida State in Jacksonville. Broncos coach Bryan Harsin announced Saturday that Hank Bachmeier, a four-star freshman from California, has been named the starter.

“Hank earned it,” Harsin told reporters per the Idaho Statesman. “It wasn’t given to him. ... He made throws, he completed passes, he did things in the pocket and he made decisions out there that we want to see. And whether a freshman, senior, doesn’t matter, those are the things that we’re looking for at that position.”

Bachmeier, ranked the No. 194 recruit in the class of 2019 by Rivals.com, beat out redshirt sophomore Chase Cord and senior Jaylon Henderson to win the job.

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 24 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Clifford holds off Levis at Penn State

Penn State has officially named Trace McSorley’s successor. The program announced Friday that sophomore Sean Clifford has been named the team’s starting quarterback. Clifford competed with redshirt freshman Will Levis throughout fall camp.

Clifford saw some action as McSorley’s backup last fall, but only when Tommy Stevens was out with an injury. Clifford and Stevens competed in the spring and Stevens ultimately decided to transfer to Mississippi State, where he was named the starter on Thursday.

Penn State has a lot of talent entering 2019, but what Clifford brings to the table could end up dictating the team’s potential.

Updated: Friday, Aug. 23 - 5:25 p.m. ET

Sean Clifford (14) will start when Penn State opens its season against Idaho. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)
Sean Clifford (14) will start when Penn State opens its season against Idaho. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)

Eason holds off Haener at Washington

When Jacob Eason transferred from Georgia to Washington, everybody assumed he would slide right into the starting role after Jake Browning’s eligibility expired. But Eason, a former five-star recruit who started as a freshman at UGA, found himself in a battle with Jake Haener, who backed up Browning last year while Eason redshirted.

It took longer than anticipated, but the Seattle Times reported Thursday night that Eason has won the starting job. Huskies head coach Chris Petersen confirmed the decision on Friday.

Eason, a 6-foot-6 junior, threw for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions at Georgia in 2016. He opened 2017 as the team’s starter, but was injured in Week 1. That opened the door for Jake Fromm to grab hold of the starting role, prompting Eason’s decision to transfer back to his home state.

He’ll make his UW debut on Aug. 31 against Eastern Washington.

Updated: Friday, Aug. 23 - 3:15 p.m. ET

Tommy Stevens to start for Mississippi State

Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead announced Thursday that Tommy Stevens will start for the Bulldogs in Week 1 against Louisiana. Stevens, a graduate transfer from Penn State, played for Moorhead when he was the offensive coordinator at PSU in 2016 and 2017.

Stevens, who backed up Trace McSorley for the Nittany Lions for three years, beat out Keytaon Thompson to win the job in Starkville. Thompson was the No. 2 quarterback behind Nick Fitzgerald the past two seasons.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Stevens was used as an all-around weapon at Penn State. In addition to 304 yards and four touchdowns through the air, Stevens rushed for 506 yards and eight TDs and also caught 14 passes for 62 yards and two scores during his time with the Nittany Lions.

Updated: Thursday, Aug. 22 - 4:18 p.m.

Notre Dame transfer gets the call at UCF

Brandon Wimbush has been named UCF’s starting quarterback, a source told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel. UCF later confirmed the news.

Wimbush, the graduate transfer from Notre Dame, beat out true freshman Dillon Gabriel to win the job. Gabriel will see playing time when the Knights open their season against Florida A&M next Thursday.

Wimbush was Notre Dame’s starting quarterback in 2017 and to open the 2018 season. However, he was benched by the Irish coaching staff in favor of Ian Book in Week 4. Book then led the team to an undefeated regular season and a trip to the College Football Playoff.

With Book entrenched in South Bend for another season, Wimbush transferred to UCF for his final season. UCF was seeking quarterback help after the grisly leg injury to star McKenzie Milton, who finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting. Wimbush was expected to compete for the starting job with sophomore Darriel Mack Jr., but Mack suffered a broken ankle ahead of preseason practice.

From there, it became a battle between Wimbush and Gabriel, a three-star recruit from Hawaii. Gabriel did enough in camp to earn snaps in Week 1, but it will be Wimbush leading the offense on the first series.

Updated: Thursday, Aug. 22 - 1:54 p.m.

Ryan Willis to lead Virginia Tech again

Justin Fuente opened up the quarterback competition for the Hokies entering fall camp and Ryan Willis emerged atop the depth chart. Hendon Hooker, Fuente told reporters, will be the backup while redshirt freshman Quincy Patterson is third on the depth chart.

Willis, who started his career at Kansas, started 10 games last fall after a serious injury to Josh Jackson. Willis threw for 2,716 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2018.

The Hokies went 6-7 last year, the program’s first losing record since 1992.

Illinois picks Michigan transfer

Brandon Peters stayed in the Big Ten and landed at Illinois following his decision to leave Michigan. The Illini had a few departures at the position, so Peters quickly became the favorite to start.

"We loved Brandon when we got a chance to know him during the recruiting process," Illini head coach Lovie Smith said. "Now that we've seen him on the field, he has been everything we though he would be. He has really thrown the ball well and is a better runner than he's given credit for. Most importantly, he has moved into a leadership role for us. We're pumped up about Brandon leading us heading into the season."

Peters played in 10 games with four starts at Michigan and threw for 680 yards and four touchdowns. Illinois opens its season against Akron on Aug. 31.

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 20 - 6:55 p.m.

Bo Nix wins the Auburn job

At Auburn, Gus Malzahn let two freshmen battle it out in advance of a marquee Week 1 matchup against Oregon. Ultimately, Bo Nix, a true freshman, edged redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. Nix will be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Auburn in a season opener since 1946.

Nix, a five-star recruit, is the son of a former Auburn quarterback who enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Gatewood took a redshirt in 2018 after injuring his thumb before the season and is considered more of a running threat than Nix.

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 20 - 3:35 p.m.

Auburn is rolling with true freshman QB Bo Nix to open the season. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Auburn is rolling with true freshman QB Bo Nix to open the season. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

West Virginia rolling with Austin Kendall

New West Virginia head coach Neal Brown announced Tuesday that Austin Kendall, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, has been named the team’s starting quarterback. During his time with the Sooners, Kendall appeared in six games, completing 28-of-39 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

“We tracked everything from spring practice through fall camp — decision making, completion percentage, number of turnovers, scoring drives — and it was clear after Friday night’s scrimmage in the stadium that he earned it,” Brown said.

Kendall, who backed up Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray at OU last fall, beat out Jack Allison, Trey Lowe and Jarret Doege for the role. Allison was the backup to Will Grier for WVU in 2018. Doege, a transfer from Bowling Green with 17 career starts, was granted immediate eligibility a few days ago, but Brown said the program plans to redshirt him. Lowe is a promising redshirt freshman.

WVU opens the season on Aug. 31 at home against James Madison.

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 20 - 2:25 p.m.

Justin Fields gets the nod at Ohio State

A piece of news that seemed inevitable is now official: Justin Fields is Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Ryan Day, entering his first season as OSU’s head coach, announced Monday that Fields, the high-profile transfer from Georgia, will lead the offense when the Buckeyes open the season against Florida Atlantic in Columbus. Fields beat out Gunnar Hoak, a graduate transfer from Kentucky, and Chris Chugunov for the job.

Fields was a five-star recruit in the 2018 class, ranked as Rivals.com’s second-best QB prospect behind Clemson star Trevor Lawrence. Fields competed for the starting job as a freshman at Georgia, but could not beat out Jake Fromm.

Justin Fields has been named the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Justin Fields has been named the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Fields saw action in 12 games, completing 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 266 yards and four scores.

After the season, Fields announced a transfer and was controversially granted immediate eligibility after landing at Ohio State. Now he will assume the role that Dwayne Haskins, a first-round pick of the Washington Redskins, thrived in last season.

Ohio State enters 2019 as the Big Ten favorite once again and will need Fields to live up to the hype for that to come to fruition. The Buckeyes desperately need Fields to stay healthy, too.

Hoak, the backup to Terry Wilson at Kentucky last year, has limited college action. Chugunov, a West Virginia transfer in his second year in Columbus, completed just 47.8 percent of his passes when an injury to Will Grier summoned him into action for WVU in 2017. In five games, he completed 43-of-90 passes for 536 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Day would not divulge Monday whether Hoak or Chugunov is second on the depth chart.

Hurts the pick at Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts is now officially Oklahoma's starting quarterback. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Jalen Hurts is now officially Oklahoma's starting quarterback. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Hurts transferred to Oklahoma after he was unseated as Alabama’s quarterback by Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. With the transfer of Austin Kendall to West Virginia, Hurts was the presumed favorite to start for the Sooners. And he’ll do just that on Sept. 1 against Houston.

Hurts is the third different starting quarterback for Oklahoma in three seasons and he’s also attempting to be the third different Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman over the past three seasons. After Baker Mayfield won the Heisman and went No. 1 in the 2018 NFL draft, Kyler Murray spent just one season as Oklahoma’s starter, won the Heisman and went No. 1 in the 2019 NFL draft.

The chances of Hurts getting the Heisman in 2019 are higher than they are of him going No. 1 in the 2020 NFL draft. Hurts should put up good rushing and passing statistics in Oklahoma’s high-flying offense. The Sooners are the prohibitive Big 12 favorite once again and are vying to get back to the College Football Playoff for a third-straight season.

In 2017, his last full season as a starter, Hurts was 154-of-255 passing for 2,081 yards and 17 touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 855 yards and eight scores. For his career, Hurts has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns and he also completed almost 73 percent of his passes in part-time duty behind Tagovailoa in 2018.

Wake Forest rolls with Jamie Newman

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson had two experienced quarterbacks to choose from, but ultimately went with redshirt junior Jamie Newman over sophomore Sam Hartman. Hartman opened 2018 as Wake’s starter, but Newman played well down the stretch after Hartman was injured.

Newman led the Deacs to wins over NC State and Duke to help the team reach a bowl game. From there, Newman had a standout performance in the Birmingham Bowl, a 37-34 win over Memphis.

Newman threw for 755 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions on the year, He also rushed for 247 yards and four scores.

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