TCU has plenty of options at quarterback going into next season.
Coach Gary Patterson spoke at length about his team’s quarterback competition that likely won’t be settled until next month when the Frogs open the season against Arkansas- Pine Bluff on Aug. 31.
“I’ve always found when you have a high competition level, as a general rule, you end up with a better product,” Patterson said at Big 12 Media Days on Monday at AT&T Stadium. “Our competition level this year going into camp is already at a high level. The best part is they all get along and they all want to be the guy and I don’t think you’d want it any different than that.”
Kansas State transfer Alex Delton appears to be the favorite with true freshman Max Duggan, redshirt freshman Justin Rogers and junior Mike Collins in the mix too. Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin is trying to get an immediate eligibility waiver, but that is far from a given, and Georgia transfer Matthew Downing is also expected to get a look.
Patterson refused to “handicap” the battle at this point.
“I’d handicap it like my golf game -- I wouldn’t handicap it,” Patterson said, laughing. “I like guys that have stories and really all six guys have a story. When you a story you usually have a little chip on their shoulder and really all of them have one.”
“I’m excited to see how everybody does. You know how I judge quarterbacks, I judge them on Saturday’s but at some point in time we’ll have to get down to three pretty quickly just because you can’t give guys enough reps to get where you need to get to.”
A look at the quarterbacks --
Delton, a graduate transfer out of Kansas State, appears to be the favorite to win the job. As a junior with the Wildcats last season, he played in seven games with starts against Texas and Kansas.
Delton finished 44 of 80 passing for 554 yards passing with two TDs and two interceptions last season.
Patterson and the coaching staff believe a change of systems and scenery will be beneficial to Delton.
“Alex Delton was a team captain [at K-State], so he’s handled himself well,” Patterson said. “I was very impressed when he came to campus the way he handled himself. To have an older guy come in made a big difference in spring football with other guys out.”
True freshman quarterbacks have had success in recent years across college football. But Patterson has only had one true freshman start a game -- Shawn Robinson at Texas Tech in 2017.
But Patterson and the coaching staff are in the business of winning football games and, if Duggan is the best option to do that, he’ll be under center.
Duggan has plenty of accolades coming to TCU, being a four-star recruit, the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and Iowa’s Gatorade Player of the Year. As a senior last season, he threw for more than 2,100 yards and 24 TDs, as well as rushing for 1,200 yards.
Rogers joined TCU with plenty of fanfare as a highly-touted recruit out of Louisiana. But he sustained a devastating knee injury his senior season, and is still not 100 percent (although Patterson said Rogers is getting closer to full strength).
Patterson compared Rogers to Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith in his recovery. Patterson said the nerve in Rogers’ knee has not fully “woken up” yet.
“Justin is somewhere about 90 [percent],” Patterson said. “We just keep working with him.”
Rogers saw action in the Cheez-It Bowl last season, his only college experience to date. He completed a pass attempt to Sewo Olonilua in his lone series.
Collins is somewhat the forgotten man in this QB battle for now. This is a guy who flashed at times last season, starting four of nine games before sustaining a season-ending injury. Patterson said Collins is up to “full speed” now.
Collins completed 56.4 percent (79 of 140) of his passes for 1,059 yards with six TDs and two interceptions.
Downing is a long shot, but a name that Patterson has mentioned multiple times this offseason. He redshirted at Georgia last season, playing in the maximum four games to maintain his redshirt, before coming to TCU.
His brother, Michael, played at TCU and is currently a graduate assistant on the coaching staff.
Baldwin is recovering from surgery and won’t be ready for fall camp, Patterson said Monday. He also may not be granted an immediate eligibility waiver, which means he’s facing an uphill battle to see the field this season.
Baldwin tore his ACL during the playoffs his senior season at Austin Lake Travis in 2017, and didn’t see action during a redshirt season at Ohio State. He was 20 of 36 for 246 yards passing with two TDs and two interceptions in Ohio State’s spring game.
“I judge quarterbacks on Saturdays, but at some point in time, out of that group we will have to get down to three pretty quickly because you can’t give guys enough reps to get where you need to without doing that.” -- Patterson