Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

SMU fall camp begins this weekend so here's a look at the quarterbacks!

Last year, expectations were extremely high due to Garrett Gilbert's arrival on the Hilltop to lead June Jones' Run N' Shoot offense that had not been as potent as it was at Hawaii.

Gilbert now enters his second season as the starter with fans not expecting as much from him thanks to a lackluster 2012 season, which featured a terrible start for Gilbert.

But expectations for this year's offense as a whole grew with the addition of Hal Mumme to the coaching staff as well as JUCO running back Traylon Shead, but it will be once again on Gilbert's arm and even his legs to make SMU fans happy.

Gilbert's final six games of the 2012 season gave Mustangs' fans hope that he was developing into the passer everyone knew he could. The Mustangs went 4-2 in the last six games with upsets over Tulsa in the regular season finale and Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.

Gilbert did not throw an interception in the final five regular season games before throwing two in the Hawaii Bowl, but his newfound running ability opened up the offense.

Gilbert will have to continue to make strides with the tweaks to the Jones' offense by working harder with his receivers to develop chemistry and trust, but one thing the Mustangs can count on is for Gilbert to make plays with his legs.

After Gilbert, former Elite 11 quarterback Neal Burcham has moved ahead of Conner Preston on the depth chart even though Preston played fairly well in mop up duty against Baylor last year.

Burcham is extremely talented and possesses the size, arm strength and now understanding of the offense to step in very capably for Gilbert if he went down. After entering camp last year still recovering from an ACL tear sustained in high school, Burcham will be much stronger and will be able to display better velocity than he did as a freshman.

Burcham will be looked at as the post-Gilbert quarterback even with new commit Tyler Harris coming to SMU in the fall of 2014 due to his experience with the playbook and just overall talent.

Preston is in a tough situation after sliding down to number three on the depth chart this spring, and it really isn't his fault, but just how well Burcham has been performing. Preston does have in-game experience, but there is little chance of Preston ever starting a game on the Hilltop now that he has been leapfrogged by Burcham.

Preston has a strong arm and accuracy, but does not possess the size that Burcham and other SMU quarterbacks have had under Jones. Preston has a solid understanding of the offense and he is well-liked by his teammates too.

Behind the first three quarterbacks, there is not much for Mustangs' fans to be excited about even though Austin Kent and Garrett Krstich developed nicely over the course of the spring.

Kent has the height at 6foot-6, but needs to fill out his frame to have much of a shot. He is also still in the early stages of understanding the offense and so he will have to develop in that regard and develop chemistry with his receivers as well.

Krstich has been a pretty good walk-on player, he has size and has committed to the program and playbook but just doesn't have much to show for it. He doesn't have much of a chance of ever playing a snap for the Mustangs,.

There has been much debate about just how good inconing freshman Kolney Cassel really is. There is a chance that Cassel may never start for the Mustangs if Burcham, Harris or even Darrell Colbert pan out. Cassel will definitely go through an adjustment period in camp, and it remains to be seen just how well he can compete at the next level.

With SMU's quarterback position being the deepest it has been under Jones, the Mustangs have Gilbert and two other quarterbacks the staff can feel comfortable throwing into the fire.

With the Mustangs expected to go a little more up-tempo, it will be interesting to see how the quarterbacks have improved since spring practices, where they impressed.

Pony Stampede Depth Chart:

1-Garrett Gilbert

2-Neal Burcham

3-Conner Preston

4-Austin Kent

5-Garrett Krstich

6-Kolney Cassel

Pony Stampede Top Stories