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Quarterback Battle Wide Open At South Alabama

A new starter will take over at South Alabama this fall. Which quarterback that will be is a huge question as spring practice trudges on.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

After a 2015 season that saw an influx of transfer talent, the South Alabama Jaguars struggled to find their groove in the passing game. The Jaguars ended the season with just under 200 yards in the air per game and more interceptions than touchdowns on the year.

Former UAB quarterback Cody Clements took over the starting job and was serviceable with 2,272 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, but never stood out like many were hoping. A bit of his struggles had top do with an inability to connect with many players that didn't join him from UAB.

Of the top five receivers last fall, three were fellow UAB transfers. The UAB transfers Gerald Everett (41/575/8TD), Josh Magee (23/504/3TD), and D.J. Vinson (23/193/0TD) combined for just over 47% of all receptions on the year. Marvin Shinn (19/335/1TD), and Danny Woodson II (19/253/1TD) were the only other receiving options to break 15 catches on the year.

Looking at the quarterback position, there will be a new starter for the 2016 season. Clements was a one year player as a transfer and gave the remaining quarterbacks a chance to spend last season preparing to run the offense.

The Contenders:

  • Dallas Davis: Davis is only quarterback to see any action last fall. He will be given every chance to earn the starting position this season and starts spring on top of the depth chart. He looked impressive last spring and used that strong performance to earn limited playing time last fall. He struggled quite a bit in the opening scrimmage as the leader of the first team offense, but should continue to lead the first team throughout the majority of the spring.
  • Hunter Vaughn: Vaughn is one of the most experienced quarterbacks at the college level on this team. He spent time at the JUCO level and made two starts for South Alabama in 2014. It does not seem like he is a contender for the starting job with all three rising sophomores at the top of the depth chart.
  • Evan Orth: A dark horse contender to end up with the starting position, Orth followed Clements and offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent from UAB. He redshirted in 2014 and sat last season, learning the offense and preparing to make a run at the starting job this fall. Orth was the most efficient (8-12, 81 yards) in the opening scrimmage of fall camp and has a great understanding of the Jaguars offense after spending the last two years studying. He isn't flashy, but tends to be quite accurate with his passing.
  • Cole Garvin: Another rising sophomore, Garvin is a transfer from Marshall that had to sit out the 2015 season. He was a highly rated recruit out of high school and expects to be in the battle for the starting position this fall. Garvin was a bit inaccurate in the opening scrimmage of spring ball, but showed the ability to connect on explosive plays with a 15 yards per completion average. For many, Garvin's ascension to starter is not an if, but when. He has the most arm talent of any player on the roster, but he has to prove that he can also be an efficient quarterback in the South Alabama system.
  • Keith Williams: Not a contender for the starting job, Williams should be another camp arm that may end up better suited for a different position. He did impress in the opening scrimmage of spring ball with 9-15 passing for 78 yards.

My Choice:

In a perfect world, I would love to wait until spring practice ends so that I can see all of the quarterbacks in multiple scrimmages. That would be much too easy.

The choice has to be Dallas Davis right now. He has the experience, albeit not all that much, in games and has been groomed to take over for Clements. He is young, but so is majority of the options at quarterback this spring.

One thing I feel comfortable about saying is that Davis will not have the position wrapped up leaving spring ball. Both Orth and Garvin have the talent to overtake Davis, but I do not see that happening this spring. This quarterback battle could easily extend until the opening week of the season.