Big Ten: J.D. Pride

Big Ten lunch links

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
12:00
PM ET
Thinking of brunette girls while putting together the links.
The Big Ten should be stronger at the quarterback spot in 2010 than it was 2009, but the league still will feature plenty of competition under center when spring practices begin next month. Penn State, Illinois and Purdue are all wide open at quarterback, while Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan have a few question marks entering spring ball. I thought about including Michigan State on this list, but Kirk Cousins seems to have a pretty good grasp on the job.

Here's a team-by-team look at what to expect from these races this spring:

PENN STATE

Who's gone: Two-year starter Daryll Clark, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009
The top candidates: Kevin Newsome (So.), Matt McGloin (So.), Paul Jones (Fr.)
Late arrivals: Heralded recruit Robert Bolden arrives this summer
Favorite: Newsome. He's not a huge favorite by any means, but he backed up Clark in 2009 and showed a few flashes in limited action.
Starter decision: Unless Newsome really separates himself this spring, Penn State likely will wait well into fall camp before naming a starter. Bolden certainly could contend for the job, but he'll need to catch up quickly.
Spring storylines: You can't overstate the importance of the quarterback race in Penn State's season, as the other positions on offense look pretty solid. Expect the new starter to run the ball more than Clark did in 2009. Penn State probably wants to redshirt either Bolden or Jones, which would keep some separation between the two heralded recruits and Newsome. Jones will have the jump on Bolden in preparation time, so he needs a good spring.

ILLINOIS

Who's gone: Four-year starter Juice Williams
The top candidates: Jacob Charest (So.), Eddie McGee (Sr.), Nathan Scheelhaase (Fr.), Chandler Whitmer (Fr.)
Late arrivals: None
Favorite: No real favorite here, although both Charest and McGee received playing time in 2009, with Charest starting two games.
Starter decision: Considering the competition is wide open and Illinois has a new offensive coordinator in Paul Petrino, the quarterback race almost certainly won't be decided until preseason camp.
Spring storylines: After running the spread offense with heavy zone read elements the last few years, Illinois likely will want more of a traditional drop-back passer for Petrino's scheme. The coordinator change truly makes things up for grabs, and both Scheelhaase and Whitmer, an early enrollee, will have a legitimate shot. Whitmer needs a strong spring, but he comes to Illinois with good credentials. McGee has played a lot but never truly claimed the starter's tag. This spring could be his last shot.

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