Spring Football Preview: Quarterbacks

The first installment of our BadgerNation.com 2003 Spring Football Preview, with a look at the quarterback battle, including a prediction on who will emerge the starter.

This will be the hottest competition of the spring, with Jim Sorgi attempting to fend off the challenges of Matt Schabert, Devin Hollins and John Stocco for playing time. Owen Daniels has been moved to tight end permanently (and will not participate this spring following his surgery), which could open up an opportunity for a backup to make a huge jump in the spring.

Here is the look at the first installment of our 2003 BadgerNation.com Spring Football Preview, as we look at each position heading into the first practice March 6.

PLAYER TO WATCH: JIM SORGI

After three years of waiting patiently, Jim Sorgi finally will remove the word "backup" from every mention of his name. Sorgi has been so reliable in relief of Brooks Bollinger that a certain percentage of UW fans have argued he should be the starter for more than two years.

Sorgi saw action at quarterback in just seven games last year, including a start at Illinois, but completed 38-of-70 passes for 536 yards and a touchdown. Despite just five career starts, he ranks 14th on UW's all-time career passing list with 2,247 yards.

Now is the time for Sorgi to take a step forward. He's already proven himself as a leader, and he has total control of the huddle. Now is the time for Sorgi to prove himself as a starter. For him to hold onto the job, he must continue to develop this spring and build further confidence. The fact Sorgi knows he's the starter should lessen the number of mistakes he makes on the field. Sorgi has admitted to pressing at times in relief of Bollinger, trying to make big plays happen quickly to maximize his limited opportunities.

With the starting job in his hands, Sorgi can begin to display what he's all about. The 2003 Badgers are truly his team.

ON THE HOTSEAT: DEVIN HOLLINS

Devin Hollins has been an invaluable asset to the Badger scout team over the past two seasons. Coach Jeff Horton has repeatedly asserted Hollins' arm is the best on the team, and his raw athleticism has allowed him to execute dead-on impersonations of opposing quarterbacks regardless of their style.

But Hollins shouldn't be on the scout team forever, and this spring is the time for him to prove he belongs in the mix for the starting job. A couple of weeks ago, Horton compared him to Iowa's Brad Banks, who went from an unknown to a Heisman contender in one year. With the right adjustments, who knows if Hollins has it in him to duplicate the shocking improvements made by the Hawkeyes' quarterback?

KEY BATTLE: MATT SCHABERT VS. DEVIN HOLLINS/JOHN STOCCO

We've heard and seen great things from Hollins and John Stocco on the practice field, and both young gunslingers are looking to make a jump up the depth chart this spring. Sometimes lost in the equation is Matt Schabert, who suddenly finds himself entering his junior season. Schabert see-sawed with Daniels last season as the No. 2-3 quarterback. Can he hold onto the No. 2 spot this spring, or even push Sorgi for the starting job?

Schabert saw limited action last season, but shined as a redshirt freshman against Michigan State, coming off the bench to complete 10-of-18 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. But like Sorgi, Schabert doesn't want to be known as a career backup, and he will be under the gun this spring to take a step forward.

PREDICTION: Jim Sorgi will hold off the competition and have an incredibly successful senior season as the starting quarterback.

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