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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Ranking the QB battles: Who can rest easiest this spring?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Reading the story earlier today about Texas A&M's manufactured quarterback battle between Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill got me thinking about something.

I started thinking which quarterbacks in the conference absolutely could afford to go fishing this spring and not worry about earning their job back in the fall.

There are several players who fit this category, starting with the top two finishers in the Heisman Trophy race last season.

Heading into spring practice, here's how I would rank the volatility of the various quarterback jobs across the conference. Those at the top could afford to spend a few weeks in Cancun. And those at the bottom better worry about every pass they throw.

Here are my rankings:

1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Something about winning the Heisman Trophy and coming back for another season ensures you'll have the job come September.

2. Colt McCoy, Texas -- Or finishing second, for that matter.

3. Robert Griffin, Baylor -- Maybe he could afford to go out and run for the Baylor track team this spring as his major athletic endeavor. But I bet he doesn't.

4. Todd Reesing, Kansas -- In his own way, might be the most valuable player in the conference -- considering the talent around him compared with the other conference's other top quarterbacks.

5. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State -- Needs the spring work to tweak his throwing a little. But if asked, he could also become a devastating option quarterback.

6. Taylor Potts, Texas Tech -- Mike Leach appears sold on him after 15 career games and 85 passes. But he still needs the activity to develop a better grasp of Leach's offense and work with his receivers.

7. Austen Arnaud, Iowa State -- After taking virtually every snap last season, seemingly should be in safe company. But you never know with a new coaching staff coming aboard.

8. Jerrod Johnson vs. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M - I'll take coach Mike Sherman at his word. Maybe Tannehill can challenge Johnson this spring. But Johnson showed a lot of promise early last season and Tannehill is among the Aggies' top playmaking receivers. I bet it stays that way, too.

9. Blaine Gabbert vs. Blaine Dalton, Missouri -- Gabbert has a year of experience, which should prove invaluable in the battle to replace Chase Daniel. Gabbert's pedigree and size also should help him nail down the job this spring.

10. Carson Coffman vs. the field, Kansas State -- Coffman has more experience than any of the five quarterbacks that Bill Snyder has inherited and is bringing into the program. It should mean that Chase Coffman's little brother gets a head start on the offense crafted by Dana Dimel and Del Miller. That work likely should be enough to keep him in front when fall practice begins.

11. Zac Lee vs. Cody Green vs. Kody Spano, Nebraska -- I have no idea who will win this battle. Lee is presumed to be ahead at the present time, but Green apparently has made a strong early impression with his teammates as an incoming freshman. I still would imagine that Lee starts the season at quarterback, with Green receiving situational playing time.

12. Cody Hawkins vs. Tyler Hansen vs. Clark Evans vs. Matt Ballenger, Colorado -- Another tight battle that is muddled because the Colorado coaching staff made the desperation move of burning Hansen's redshirt midway through last season. Hawkins and Hansen both have won Big 12 games, but it should be an even race that plays out through the spring. This is a positional battle that could hinge on every scrimmage.