Starters departed: Tyler Donovan
2008 position coach: Paul Chryst
Another spring means another quarterback competition.
The battle for Wisconsin's starting quarterback job is becoming an annual rite of passage in spring for the Wisconsin coaching staff. Gone is fifth-year senior Tyler Donovan, who compiled a 2,607 yards passing, 277 rushing, 22 total touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 134.0.
Now Donovan's shoes look to be filled by another fifth-year senior in Allan Evridge. Evridge, who transferred from Kansas State after the 2005 season, was named the second-string quarterback after battling with Donovan throughout fall camp. Evridge (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) saw action in seven games last night (most of which came in garbage time) but already has an impressive resume from his time in Manhattan, Kansas.
Evridge earned honorable mention All-American honors from the Sporting News after throwing for a freshman school-record 1,365 yards and six touchdowns, including the game winner in K-State's come-from-behind victory over Kansas. He passed for more than 200 yards in three of his six starts, including a season-high 357-yard performance against Texas A&M that stands as the ninth-best single-game passing total in K-State history.
A left-handed throwing signal caller, Evridge is a lot like Donovan in the sense that he can hurt you with his feet or his arm, although he prefers the latter. Evridge was listed top on the spring depth chart and he's played thus far like the starting quarterback, throwing crisp, tight spirals and managing the offense like a savvy veteran.
Second on the depth chart is little-known junior Dustin Sherer (6-foot-4, 214 pounds), who has done nothing in his high school career but win. A four-year starter and a four-time team MVP, Sherer had a 33-7 record as a starter and had career totals included 384 of 699 passing for 6,371 yards and 61 touchdowns (30 of which came his senior season).
Sherer has only played in three games in his two non-redshirt seasons at Wisconsin (he took the final snap of last year's Indiana game) but has performed well the last two spring games. Sherer was more than ready to compete for the starting job last season, but the addition of Evridge into the offense put a wrench into his plans.
"I came [into Wisconsin] and I did well to put myself in position to play, but then Allan came in and set me back," Sherer told me last season. "That's life I guess and that's life in the NCAA football world. I look down the line to [motivate me] to be competitive and compete because I want to be the starter. Allan and I will battle it out next year and the best one will get the spot. Hopefully, for my part, that's me."
Sherer has lived up to that end of the bargain, thus far, matching Evridge throw for throw. He's looked the sharpest on timing routes, hitting players as soon as their cuts are made, and has nailed the deep ball when he pulls the trigger.
But the quarterback generating the most hype in the spring season probably won't even play in the fall. Freshman quarterback Curt Phillips (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) brings an impressive resume to the University of Wisconsin (high school All-American, Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year and 42nd-best QB in the nation by Scout.com among his accolades).
A three-time all-state, all-conference selection, Phillips is an incredibly athletic quarterback that possesses a strong arm, but can deliver a pass with tremendous touch. Solid footwork dropping back into the pocket, Phillips can get the ball out of his hands quickly or tuck it and run for the first down. In the early going, Phillips has thrown the ball comfortably to both sides of the field and on bootlegs.
With career totals of 5,418 passing yards, 3,788 rushing yards and 115 career TDs (64 rushing, 51 passing), Phillips can easily be a two- or three-year starter at UW if he can adapt to the Wisconsin offense.
Also in the Mix:
Freshman James Stallons (6-foot-5, 173 pounds): Ranked among top 80 quarterbacks in the nation by Scouts, Stallons is a pro-style quarterback who knows how to win, helping Dakota H.S. in Macomb (MI.) win the Division I state title his senior year. Completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns that season, Stallons biggest weapon is the deep ball, as he consistently has hit his wide receivers streaking down the sideline.
Sophomore Scott Tolzien (6-foot-3, 201 pounds): Ranked among top 70 quarterbacks in the nation according to Scout.com, Tolzien has been good throughout spring camp. He's been solid on the short routes, pretty good on the mid routes and average on the deep ball.