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Big Ten Quarterbacks 2023: The Hopefuls

Coming in on a wing and a prayer

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Oh God what have I done?

7. Purdue Boilermakers

Starter: Hudson Card

Backups: Brady Allen, Ryan Browne

A bit of a tough one. Hudson Card is a former top 60 recruit who actually played pretty well for Texas last season. Uber-recruit Quinn Ewers “won” the job, even though Card passed at a much higher percentage (69% v. 58%), more yards per attempt, and had a higher quarterback rating. He seems like the perfect quarterback for Purdue...under Jeff Brohm.

But of course, Jeff Brohm is off to the hell sink that is Louisville. In his place is former Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters. He hired former Texas Tech quarterback legend Graham Herrell, who will bring the Air Raid to West Lafayette. His previous stops at Wester Virginia and USC were...all right. The Air Raid, run properly, is not that easy to implement in an offseason. Mike Leach (God rest his soul) developed his quarterbacks to essentially be able to call their own plays, but that ain’t a quick process.

In any event, Card is good, and they have another top 200 guy in Brady Allen. He entered the transfer portal and then portaled right back to Purdue. Ryan Browne is a new recruit who will only play if the ACL Demon hits Purdue again. If they can get the new system in place, the quarterbacks should be pretty solid at a minimum.

6. Wisconsin Badgers

Starter: Tanner Mordecai

Backups: Nick Evers, Braedyn Locke, Myles Burkett, Cole LaCrue

Well, now for something completely different. Old trusty Wisconsin, fresh off 30 years of ground and pound and pound some more, is moving to the Air Raid after new coach Luke Fickell enlisted Phil Longo as his offensive coordinator. Longo’s old home, North Carolina, was seventh in the country in passing attempts last season. Wisconsin? 116th. Things are going to be weird.

The good news is Wisconsin is kind of loaded with new quarterbacks. Former Sooner and SMU Mustang Tanner Mordecai has been one of the more prolific passers the past two seasons. While he is the presumed starter, both Evers are Locke are former four star recruits who have transferred in to presumably compete for the starting job next year.

If they are so loaded, why rank them sixth? The main reason is that while I think a lot of Luke Fickell, and Phil Longo has had a lot of success, one offseason is a pretty short amount of time to move heaven and earth and Wisconsin’s offensive identity. You have to expect some hiccups and the angry spirit of Barry Alvarez to fight against progress.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions

Starter: Drew Allar

Backups: Beau Pribula, Jaxon Smolik

Well, here it is. After 12 years of Sean Clifford, the Nits are are putting their five star Golden Boy behind center and going to the promised land. At least, that is the narrative coming out of Happy Valley, and why not? Recruiting rankings beat on field production nine times out of ten. Drew Allar did get some spot duty hear and there last year, and nothing really stands out. His most notable appearance was in the first game against Purdue when Sean Clifford went out with diarrhea a couple injuries or tweaks.

The backup situation is also young. Beau Pribula is a redshirt freshman that reminds PSUers of Trace McSorley. Jaxon Smolik is a true freshman and seems unlikely to play. All in all, the youth in the room is a bit concerning. On the other hand, they have most of the coaching staff in place and we aren’t looking at any major changes. I’m generally a believer in continuity over Big Changes, so I’m putting them above Wiscy. It’s close, but when in doubt, believe the hype.

4. The Ohio State Buckeyes

Starter: Kyle McCord

Backups: Devin Brown, Tristan Gebbia

Speaking of new quarterbacks, here is the other new, formerly five star recruit. Kyle McCord looks set to be the new OSU signal caller. Well, maybe. Buckeye fans, always on the knife’s edge of sanity, are very concerned that McCord wasn’t all that great in the Spring Game. He’s barely played over the past two seasons so the blank slate starts getting filled in with observations from practice and whispers from the media.

Could that open the door for someone else? Devin Brown was a top fifty recruit and is the other name in the quarterback competition. He didn’t play in the Spring Game due to a hurt finger, so his ability is only limited by Buckeye imaginations. Ryan Day also found a former aged veteran from the Cornhusker class of 2017 in Tristan Gebbia. Man, life has changed a lot since 2017.

In any event, the Buckeyes have fielded the Big Ten’s best offense for some time now. They did lose Kevin Wilson to be the head coach at Tulsa, and Ryan Day is apparently giving playcalling duties to new OC and ATV expert Brian Hartline. While those are question marks, a stinky quarterback room would be a surprise, so we’ll slot them here for the time being.