NSD: Big Ten Set Up for Intense QB Battles

The 2013 class in the Big Ten has some gunslingers in it, with several highly rated national guys and another handful who fit the sleeper mold of many of the conference's current starters. Here is a closer look at the most scrutinized position on the field.

The Big Ten will welcome a new crop of highly regarded signal callers this year. There are two five-stars in the group, several four-stars and then some high three-stars.

Looking around the conference, the guys who played heavy snaps last year break down to two five-stars, three four-stars (if you count Denard Robinson who was rated as a corner), 11 three-stars, a two-star and one who was not ranked. Two walk-ons, 16 on scholarship. Here is the chart.

Name School Stars Pos Rank
Braxton Miller Ohio State ***** 2
Devin Gardner Michigan ***** 5
Robert Marve Purdue **** 10
Denard Robinson  Michigan **** 16 (CB)
Nathan Scheelhaase Illinois **** 20
Caleb Ter Bush Purdue *** 32
Andrew Maxwell Michigan State *** 33
Trevor Siemian Northwestern *** 33
Cameron Coffman Indiana *** 40
Taylor Martinez Nebraska *** 41
Curt Phillips Wisconsin *** 42
Philip Nelson Minnesota *** 46
Kain Colter Northwestern *** 49
James Vandenberg Iowa *** 50
Max Shortell Minnesota *** 58
Danny O'Brien Wisconsin *** 58
Joel Stave (walk-on) Wisconsin ** 111
Matt McGloin (walk-on) Penn State NR NR

Some of the conference's blue chip quarterback recruits, like Miller, have lived up to their billing. It appears as though Gardner, if late last season is any indication, will have a good career as well. Others, like Robert Bolden and Chandler Whitmer, two four-star guys, are no longer with the teams they signed with.

So what can we expect from this year's crop? We have Shane Morris and Christian Hackenberg, two five-star guys. Hackenberg jumped Morris in the rankings at the end of the year. After a season where he was affected by mono, then had a sub-par Under Armour Game, there suddenly are questions about Morris, but he has arm strength, upside, and now the motivation to prove his doubters wrong. Hackenberg steps into a wide open spot at Penn State, where he has a chance to compete immediately for the job, where Morris will likely have to wait behind Gardner.

Damion Terry, a Michigan State signee, moved up into the national top ten and will be the highest ranked quarterback the Spartans have signed in quite awhile. J.T. Barrett is a big, athletic Texas kid headed to Ohio State. Aaron Bailey is another dual-threat guy, big at 6'2, 225-lbs, and was a big grab for Illinois. Johnny Stanton, a 6'2, 221-lb California native chose Nebraska. Matt Alviti, a mobile, accurate passer, and one of the highest rated recruits Northwestern has gotten, rounds out the four-star guys coming in.

Then you have Danny Etling, a high 3-star, and the number 40 quarterback in the country. Looking at all of the guys in the 30's and 40's starting in the conference, maybe we should just pencil in Etling as the future starter at Purdue now.

The rest go as follows: Wisconsin hauled in 6'6 JUCO product Tanner McEvoy. Penn State also went the JC route and picked up Tyler Ferguson to go along with Hackenberg. Iowa picked up 6'4 Texas product Nic Shimonek, a mid three-star. Minnesota went into Illinois and got two-star Chris Streveler. Indiana, to this point, has not received a quarterback commitment.

So what have we learned from the past few seasons? Five-star Miller is considered the conference's top quarterback, but it was a three-star Martinez who faced off against Wisconsin's group of two-three stars and a two-star walk-on in the conference title game.

Yes, things are unpredictable, but on paper, this is a strong group of guys at the position, and while the talent put around them is important, their individual developments are going to be a hot topic over the next few years and will ultimately play a big part in deciding the conference races.

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