While coach Frank Beamer reiterated on Thursday that Leal remains the frontrunner to take over for former starter Logan Thomas, Beamer also said that if none of the quarterback candidates separate themselves this spring, he’ll look for another answer this summer.
That could be former Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer, who announced earlier this month that he plans to transfer to Virginia Tech in June.
“You evaluate, ‘OK, are they the guy that’s going to lead you?’” Beamer said. “If not, I think you go right to the new ones coming in and give them every opportunity. These guys this spring, it’s an important time for them and for us to see if anyone comes out of that group. Mark Leal is certainly the frontrunner. I firmly believe he’s a better quarterback than he showed in the bowl game. We’ll see where he goes.”
Leal played in just three games last season, and completed 15 of 29 passes for two interceptions and no touchdowns -- the bulk of which came in relief of Thomas in a poor performance against UCLA in the Sun Bowl. Leal was also sacked three times in that game. He will face competition this spring from redshirt sophomore Brenden Motley and early enrollee freshman Andrew Ford this spring.
Regardless of who wins the starting quarterback job in Blacksburg in 2014, Beamer said he expects the offense to be better now that it is more familiar with offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
“Anytime you’ve had experience with what you’re doing, and if you’re doing something new there’s always an adjustment time period there,” Beamer said. “I think we saw that, but for the players it’s been a year and really for the whole offense. I expect us to be more efficient this time around than we were able to be the first time around.”
It’s going to have to start with their quarterback this spring. The competition won't truly end, though, until Brewer is added to the mix this summer.