Football position breakdown: Quarterbacks

Training camp at the University of Memphis ends Wednesday, which means the season opener against Mississippi State on Sept. 1 is drawing near. So, starting today, we'll break down each position, from quarterbacks to special teams — what to reasonably expect, who should start, and more.

We'll start with the most important position in the sport (and one that still hasn't been figured out at Memphis): quarterback.


1. Andy Summerlin. Summerlin won the job over Will Gilchrist in the spring. As the incumbent entering fall camp, Summerlin hasn't shined by any means, but the two new contestants in the quarterback wheel of fortune — freshman Taylor Reed and graduate transfer Skylar Jones — haven't done quite enough to pull ahead of Summerlin.

At 6-foot-5 and 220-pounds, Summerlin isn't the most mobile quarterback on the roster. He's also coming off shoulder surgery last season. Still, Summerlin looks like the most viable candidate to take the first snap against Mississippi State on Sept. 1 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

2. Taylor Reed. Reed, a left-handed freshman, has come along well in training camp. U of M coach Larry Porter essentially threw the entire playbook at him, and considering the fact he's only had about three weeks to digest it, he's progressed nicely. Because Reed is a freshman, Porter will most likely try to bring Reed along at a comfortable pace.

If Summerlin flames out as the starter, however, Reed would probably get the nod. His arm strength isn't overwhelming, but he can move well and would mesh well in a spread offense that doesn't require many downfield throws anyway.

3. Skylar Jones. Jones enrolled at Memphis as a grad student this summer after graduating from Wake Forest. His career as a Demon Deacon was far from illustrious, but he happens to be the only quarterback on the roster with Football Bowl Subdivision experience. As with Reed, Jones's arm isn't great, but he is elusive in the pocket and can tuck and run any given play.

As Porter has said before, the Tigers' coaching staff will design specific packages for Jones to come in and execute. He most likely will not compete for the starting job, barring injuries.

4. Will Gilchrist. Gilchrist has been at Memphis since 2009 but has never really threatened for the job and it‘s no different this season. In former Memphis coach Tommy West's last season, he was searching for any answer at the quarterback position and Gilchrist never got a legitimate look.

The stark reality for Porter in his second season is that, while there's more depth this year, the best he can hope for is probably just average quarterback play. Porter is hoping that Summerlin can emerge as a sufficient game manager rather than a consistent playmaker. If any quarterback on the roster can simply avoid causing turnovers, the chances of Porter and the Tigers increase greatly

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