My colleague, Bruce Feldman of ESPN The Magazine, makes an excellent point concerning Florida quarterback John Brantley's big spring game.
In short, big spring game numbers don't always translate into big numbers that next season for a first-time starter. And likewise, modest spring game numbers aren't always an accurate indicator of what kind of numbers that quarterback is going to put up that next fall.
Hey, I think Brantley is an exceptional talent and one of the top three quarterbacks in the SEC right now. But he still has to go out and prove it. We've seen his high school tape. We've seen him light up spring practice each of the past two years.
Now, we need to see him when it counts. He's yet to take a meaningful snap against an SEC defense. Even when he relieved Tim Tebow last season against Kentucky following Tebow's concussion, that game was already out of hand.
Feldman went back and looked and some spring game statistics for other prominent quarterbacks just before they broke through.
Here's a glance:
Greg McElroy, Alabama 2009:
16-30 for 189 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs.
McElroy wasn't exactly replacing a celebrated QB in John Parker Wilson, but like Clark, he gradually started winning folks over thanks to his intangibles.
Mark Sanchez, USC, 2008:
16-24 for 203 yards, 3 TD passes, 1 INT.
Some Trojans observers expected Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain to win the job, but Pete Carroll was sold that Sanchez, a guy who had played a decent amount for the Trojans, was the way to go.
Jake Locker, Washington, 2007:
4-8 for 38 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Huge recruit with amazing tools, the reason the expectations on Locker for his debut season weren't even higher is because he was so young and raw.
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas, 2009:
15-26 for 233 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
The Michigan transfer was a big-name recruit with incredible arm strength and size. Only thing slowing down this train was the fact he was playing for a rebuilding program.
Jacory Harris, Miami, 2009:
9-16 for 141 yards and 1 INT.
Unflappable local kid who had started a few games as a true freshman. Harris was the Canes' only viable option.
Kellen Moore, Boise State, 2008:
11-13 for 99 yards.
Combine his lack of size with the fact BSU only had to beat out Eastern Washington to sign him and you get a true sleeper.
Case Keenum, Houston, 2007:
4-9 for 143 yards and 2 TDs.
Texas' version of Kellen Moore.
Andrew Luck, Stanford, 2009:
18-25 for 352 yards and 5 TDs.
If Stanford hadn't been down for so long, the buzz here would've bordered on massive given his pedigree, recruiting rep and the fact Jim Harbaugh wasn't shy about praising him.
Blaine Gabbert, Missouri, 2009:
17-29 for 236 yards and 2 TDs.
Great physical tools but, similar to a few others on this list, he wasn't taking over a team that had any top-15 talk around it.