When the Arizona Wildcats open spring football Monday at Kindall/Sancet Stadium, Anu Solomon could take the first snap at quarterback.
Or it could be Connor Brewer
Or Jesse Scroggins.
Or Nick Isham.
Or Jerrard Randall.
The quarterback competition is “wide open” this spring, coach Rich Rodriguez says, and if he knows who will start with the first-team offense Monday, he’s not telling.
“Maybe we’ll run two offenses so nobody can figure it out,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll probably change it every day; maybe every series just to see what happens. People say it’s hard to rep that many quarterbacks, but with how we run practice, it’s not as difficult as you’d think.
“We throw so much in practice and run so many plays that we can rotate a lot of our quarterbacks and give them all a really good look. That’s what we have to do this spring.”
Quarterback isn’t the only position up for grabs this spring, but it’s certainly the most interesting one. When the Wildcats opened spring drills last year, the quarterback spot was unsettled, but it was pretty much a two-man race between Scroggins and eventual starter B.J. Denker.
Denker pulled away when Scroggins was sidelined for the majority of the spring recovering from foot surgery.
This year, there should be plenty of intrigue.
“I don’t know if I’m excited or not,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “I’d be more excited if B.J. could start for the first couple of games, and then we could ease someone in there. We’re dealing with talented guys; it’s just they have a lack of experience.
“It’s going to be an interesting spring for me; I’m going to pull my hair out, I’m sure.”
Solomon and Brewer appear to be the two early favorites in the race.
Solomon got a chance early as a true freshman last fall, but was eventually redshirted when Denker ran away with the competition.
The Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School product was rated as a four-star prospect coming out of high school. And when Sports Illustrated rated him as the No. 1 true freshman likely to make an impact last summer, there was natural excitement about his potential as a Wildcat.
Rodriguez said just because he redshirted doesn’t mean he still can’t have
a successful career at
“I don’t really know what people were saying if they thought he was going to come in and be the savior as a freshman or not,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t think that. We thought more than likely he’d come in and provide some competition, but that he’d likely have to redshirt.
“But with Anu, I think he can be everything we thought he could be, which is an outstanding quarterback.
“I want to see some progress from him this spring, and I’m sure I will.”
Brewer arrived at the UA two days before fall practice after transferring from Texas. He ran the scout team all fall.
Like Solomon, Brewer was highly touted coming out of high school; he chose Texas over offers from Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M and others.
“Connor and Anu are very similar,” Smith said. “Anu might be a shade faster. But they’re very similar in terms of stature. Both are pretty good throwers. Anu is a little more athletic maybe; not a whole lot. But they’re pretty comparable from what I’ve seen so far.”
Randall signed with the Wildcats in December out of Northeast Mississippi Junior College and intrigues coaches with his speed and athletic ability. He’ll have the most to learn this spring, practicing under Rodriguez and Smith for the first time.
The dark horse in the race is Scroggins.
He joined the team as a mid-year enrollee last year out of El Camino Junior College in California after two seasons at USC. But after missing most of spring with his foot issue, Scroggins battled a concussion during fall practice and struggled to adjust to the demands of playing for Rodriguez.
But as far as talent goes, Scroggins may have the most of any of the quarterbacks on the roster.
“I promise you I have not written him off,” Smith said. “There’s always been a maturation process with Jesse. He’s got one more shot at this thing, and I’ve seen a difference.
“He’s got all the arm talent in the world. He’s got the body. He has the talent to play the position if his mind will let him. I’m curious to see how he performs this spring.
“I know it’s easy to write guys off, but a kid with that much talent — if the light switch ever kicks on, he can be a good player for us.”