SPRING REPORT CARD: Quarterbacks

After three years as an option style quarterback, how is Stephen Mcgee handling the new pro style offense? Where does Jerrod Johnson fit into the picture? How does the quarterback position look as the Aggies head towards the spring game on April 19? Aggie Websider begins its Spring Report Card series by handing out the first grades of the semester.

When spring football began two weeks ago, it appeared that Jerrod Johnson would get most of the snaps. Many wondered if senior Stephen McGee, who emerged as the heart and soul of the Aggie football team last season, would be able to learn the new offense from the sidelines. Would seven on seven drills be enough to prepare him before fall two-a-days begin? Or, would Johnson benefit from McGee's offseason shoulder surgery and emerge as the No. 1 quarterback heading into the summer?

Midway through spring football practice, things have changed.

After a week of incredibly accurate passing, McGee was cleared by team doctors to take part in all drills last week, and for the most part, he looked like he hadn't missed a beat. At times he seemed to be uncomfortable throwing the ball downfield unless his wide receiver was wide open, but at other times he was making the right reads through his progressions and hitting his target in stride.

He also seems to be extremely comfortable with the new seam routes to the tight end and slot receivers down the middle of the field, which he hit time and time again in the Aggies' last practice on Thursday.

And here's something else that's new this year, he pump fakes the ball—right on time—to help receivers sell their double move.

There's no doubt that he's enjoying himself in the new offense, and is really seeing dividends from working with quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley and head coach Mike Sherman.

But Johnson hasn't been pouting on the sidelines, either, and seems to be comfortable in his role as backup for another year. But don't be surprised if he's in games—while they still matter—to make a play for his team, and give defenses something else to prepare for.

He's made several great plays in the first two weeks of practice, forcing linemen to chase him around the pocket with his elusive footwork and speed, creating plays for his wide receivers by buying time in the backfield.

He's also shown that in addition to the cannon he calls an arm, he's got a nice touch on the ball for downfield passes, and has thrown several nice go-up-and-get-it balls to freshman wide receiver Jeffrey Fuller—who we'll talk more about in the wide receiver report card.

The beauty of a Johnson/McGee rotation at quarterback is that they bring two completely different styles to the game. While McGee racks up a lot of rushing yards, those have historically been the result of making the right read on the option play and not from scrambling.

But Johnson has the ability to make defenders miss, allowing him to punish teams with his feet, and also buying his receivers time downfield and making the throw on the run.

Even Ryan Tannehill has looked good at times in spring practice and is a very dependable third option at quarterback if the ultimate disaster were to happen and McGee and Johnson both go down for a period of time. He's not who you want starting, but again, worst case scenario, he's a lot better than most teams' third stringer wearing the headset next to the head coach.

1. Stephen McGee
STRENGTHS: Leadership, toughness, accuracy
THINGS TO WORK ON: McGee is obviously a great leader, but he's going to have a big transition to make this year in a new pro style offense under Sherman. Will he be able to get rid of the run-first mentality and return to the aerial attack that he enjoyed in high school? If he can trust his instincts and his wide receivers to be where they're supposed to be, it could be a big year for McGee, and put him on some NFL draft boards this time next year.

2. Jerrod Johnson
STRENGTHS: Agility, accuracy, elusiveness
THINGS TO WORK ON: Johnson has never really played under center, even during his days at Humble High School, where he also played in the shotgun. Johnson needs to work on his footwork when under center and continue to develop the leadership potential that is already evident by the way he's handled himself as the backup.


Big D's Grade for Quarterback: B+




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