WVU’s battle at quarterback is truly a four-man race

paul-millard

West Virginia has been here before.

There was the “Who will replace Jeff Hostetler?” Then came the “Who will replace Major Harris?” The same can be said for Marc Bulger and Pat White.

Now you can add Geno Smith to the list.

Typically there is a one- or two-year transition with someone like Greg Jones, Chad Johnston or Jarrett Brown.

This spring, WVU coach Dana Holgorsen is working overtime trying to replace the talented Smith, who is likely to be a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Background

As the Mountaineers opened the 2012 season 5-0 and were ranked in the Top 10, Smith’s near flawless performances appeared to make him a lock for the Heisman. Then WVU lost its next five games, Smith’s shot at the Heisman was history and the Mountaineers’ first season in the Big 12 unraveled.

It wasn’t Smith’s fault for the mid-season collapse, but he didn’t play his best either. He still leaves Morgantown as one of the program’s best ever and replacing him won’t be easy.

Because of his success and durability, Smith didn’t sit on the sidelines much. Therefore, the guys fighting for his job this year are all fairly inexperienced.

Who’s leaving?

Geno Smith (2012 stats): 365 of 513 (71.2 percent), 4,198 yards, 42 touchdowns, 6 interceptions.

ford-childressWho’s filling the Void?

Paul Millard, junior (2012 stats): 9 of 19 (47.4 percent), 87 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.

Ford Childress, redshirt freshman (2012 stats): Redshirted in 2012.

Logan Moore, junior (2012 stats): Sat out 2012 after transferring from Fairmont (W.Va.) State.

Chavas Rawlins, early enrollee (2012 stats): N/A

What’s happening this spring?

Holgorsen is giving all four quarterbacks a good look, as the job is technically wide open.

Millard has an upper hand because he’s the most experienced quarterback in WVU’s system, but Childress was highly recruited out of Texas and has a prototypical NFL build at 6-foot-5, 234 pounds. So it would seem those two would be the favorites to start in the fall.

However, Millard is considered to have average talents at best, and Childress had some off-the-field issues after enrolling early last season (http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/blog/eye-on-college-football/18701789/west-virginia-early-enrollee-qb-ford-childress-charged-with-dui).

So don’t overlook the other competitors.

Moore started two years at Fairmont State and you have to like a guy willing to give up a scholarship to walk-on at a bigger program. He was the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year and threw for 3,546 yards in two seasons.

Then there is Rawlins, who may have more potential than anyone on the roster. He’s a true dual-threat QB. His ability to run the ball could catch some eyes this spring and Holgorsen could take a gamble on the playmaker.

What to expect heading into the summer and fall?

There’s a good chance Millard will come out of spring listed as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but everyone around Milan Puskar Stadium will know the battle is still up for grabs.

The off-season workouts and study habits from May until August could make a huge impact on who starts against William & Mary on Aug. 31. The easy opener might translate into an audition for a couple of these guys to see some real action.

It will get much tougher the next week, though, when WVU travels to Norman, Okla., and takes on the Sooners. It will be a tough road game for the most experienced QB, much less one of these guys.