B.J. Denker can be considered the leader in the clubhouse in the competition for Arizona's starting quarterback. But the competition has a long way to go.


The Arizona Wildcats have one practice and one scrimmage left this spring.

And when they finish, B.J. Denker will be the leader in the clubhouse in the race to be the team's starting quarterback.

That doesn't mean the job will be his when Arizona opens the season Aug. 30 against Northern Arizona. But if the Lumberjacks were coming to town today, Denker would likely be the signal-caller.

"He probably has the greatest grasp of what we're doing offensively," quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith said. "He understands where the ball needs to go and what it needs to do at certain times.

"B.J. is ahead of all of them as far as knowing what's going on."

But Denker won't be named the starter for the NAU game anytime soon - and the senior-to-be understands why.

He'll battle with former USC backup Jesse Scroggins, Javelle Allen, Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham and incoming freshman Anu Solomon in August. The winner will take all.

"I don't want the position given to me, and I don't think it should be," Denker said. "Competition makes you a better player and makes the team better. I'm fine with it being open."

The Wildcats will practice Wednesday and then host their annual spring game Saturday at Kindall/Sancet Stadium.

The Star chatted with Smith to get his impressions on all the candidates as spring practice winds down.

On Denker's development: "B.J. Denker has had a very productive spring. I think he's been pretty sharp lately. He still has some things we need to continue to get better at and work on. I've been pleased with his progress. He's doing a very good job so far."

On Allen: "I think Javelle Allen has really come along lately. He's getting better, but he has a long way to go. He's not where he was when he started this spring, and that's positive. He's done some good things."

On Isham: "Nick Isham has been a little banged up this week. He hasn't taken any reps this week because of his shoulder. He was doing some things early on that were OK. This is a lot of work for those guys. It's really the first time a lot of them are operating in our system with what we do offensively and not scout team stuff. It's new for them, and there's a long way to go."

On Scroggins, who is recovering from offseason foot surgery and has recently began participating in some drills: "Jesse Scroggins has been in there to get some throws. He's not full speed yet, but he can take some drops. I want him to get the feel of how deep routes are, the timing of throws and what it looks like, what it feels like, getting back in the throwing motion. He probably has the best arm of our group, he's very physically gifted, but at the same time, he has a lot to work on this summer."

On Scroggins' development in the film room: "He's a pretty sharp individual. He's picked it up pretty good for his first time being here. Is he ready to operate it? No. But he has a grasp and understands what we're trying to do. Now it's a thing where he needs to see some live bullets, and we'll go from there."

On where the group is as a whole: "I don't know if you're ever where you want to be. I've seen enough progress. It's enough to keep building on. We haven't done enough to sit back and relax, though. We're not talented enough at the QB position to do that."

On Solomon getting the chance to compete for the job when he arrives this summer: "If we're recruiting you, it's because we think you can help us win championships. We don't tell anybody they're redshirting. We'll give him every opportunity to compete for the job. If he can get involved, he'll be right there. If he can't, we'll go from there. But he should come and try to win a job."

Spring Game

• When: 1 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Tickets: Free admission, parking

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk