Top 5 position battles to watch: Backup QB

The countdown of Stanford's top 5 position battles continues.

One position battle will be highlighted each day this week.

No. 2: Backup quarterback

Who to watch: Evan Crower, Ryan Burns, Keller Chryst

Outlook: Incumbent Kevin Hogan still has two years of eligibility remaining, but it's worth diving into what's happening behind him on the depth chart. Stanford hasn't needed to play a backup quarterback as a result of injury since the Sun Bowl in 2009, but if it needs to in 2014, it'll be between Crower and Burns. Crower, a lefty, came in with Hogan as a part of the recruiting class in 2011 and served as the primary backup last year after Josh Nunes retired due to injury and Brett Nottingham transferred to Columbia. He appeared in four games and completed 10-of-15 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in mop-up duty while Burns redshirted.

Burns was the No. 4-ranked pocket passer in the class of 2013 and drew glowing reviews from the coaching staff for his play on the scout team, however, despite his accolades, there's no clear path to a starting job. It's much like the situation Nottingham faced after serving as Luck's backup in 2011. Even when Hogan and Crower leave, Burns will have to contend with Chryst, a recent-signee who was every bit the caliber recruit of Burns. Stanford doesn't allow early enrollees, so that competition won't truly begin until the fall. However, because Chryst lives in Palo Alto attending spring practices and meetings wouldn't be difficult. He is expected to redshirt in 2014.

The countdown

No. 3: Center

No. 4: Safety

No. 5: Fullback