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February 25, 2014

Starting quarterback job is up for grabs




The Fresno State Bulldogs are a few weeks away from beginning Spring football and pundits everywhere are trying to figure out what the new-look Bulldog offense will be. Most importantly, people will be filling airwaves and print media with speculation about the new starting quarterback for the Bulldogs. Who will earn the right to lead the Bulldogs in the post-Carr era?

Assuming nothing changes, the Bulldogs will enter the 2014 season with four quarterbacks on scholarship. Fresno returns Myles Carr, Brian Burrell, and Zack Greenlee from last year. As an added bonus, they will welcome in Kilton Anderson in June. Head coach Tim DeRuyter has said that four scholarship quarterbacks will be the plan from here on out.

What does all of this mean for those of you keeping track at home? It means that it's a wide-open competition for the starting job and that things are going to get interesting as the season draws nearer.

Sources tell us that Burrell would likely get the nod if the season were to begin tomorrow. Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm honed his craft all over, but enjoyed major program success at Utah from 2009-2012. The Utes' offense enjoyed success during those years and Schramm brought balance to the Ute offense. Burrell's experience in the type of system that Schramm likes to run would likely give him the advantage headed into spring, but the situation is so fluid that it could change tomorrow.

Burrell has won everywhere he's been. Burrell's Bakersfield (Calif.) squad actually beat a Centennial (Calif.) squad led by Cody Kessler when they were in high school. He then led Bakersfield College to a CCCAA State Championship in 2012. He had an 11-2 record that year and threw for 2,555 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. Did we mention his mom was also an outstanding tennis player at Stanford? Yeah, she was ranked No. 3 in the national doubles rankings at one point.

Greenlee is another prospect that has people buzzing. A product of Trent Dilfer and his Elite 11 camp, Greenlee has captivated the Red Wave with his talent and the hype surrounding that talent. Finishing fourth in the Elite 11 will get you some hype, but how does he fit into the Bulldogs' larger plans? He was a true freshman in 2013, after all.

Well, Greenlee isn't without mobility. The Lincoln (Calif.) high school grad also ran track his junior year. His personal best, according to his Fresno State biography, was an 11.02 in the 100-meters. If you factor in an additional two years without track and Fresno's strength and conditioning program, will Greenlee have that same burst of speed he once had? We will find out soon enough.

Greenlee also took home Fresno State's Dirk Duncan Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year honors in 2013. The last two guys to take that honor home were Josh Quezada and Davante Adams. That Adams guy did one or two things at Fresno.

While it's likely that 2014's starter is either Burrell or Greenlee, Myles Carr is a guy that could make things interesting. Carr was on the third team for most of 2013, but nobody was ever going to see meaningful snaps in 2013 other than Derek Carr. This year could give M. Carr the chance to showcase his decision-making skills with the football.

M. Carr averaged better than a 3:1 ratio of touchdowns-to-interceptions in his three years of high school football. He also completed nearly 65 percent of his passes during that same stretch of football. He's smart and has shown an ability to take care of the football. With the uncertainties on the offensive line, having a quarterback who can take care of the football will be critical to the success of this team in 2014.

There's also the matter of Anderson and his blazing speed. Anderson will bring a more polished dual-threat approach to the Bulldogs, but he will also be the new guy on the team. Whether or not Anderson can truly compete for the starting job will depend on his ability to grasp the playbook. There's also the matter of size and bulking up for college football. The other guys might not be too much bigger than Anderson in terms of overall size, but they have the benefit of having been in the strength and conditioning program for the last couple of years.

Anderson is definitely a kid to keep your eye on, but it seems unlikely that he would challenge for the starting job right away. Anderson is prepared for this possibility and is prepared to redshirt if he has to, but he intends to come in and compete for that starting job. Offenses have gotten simpler in college football and quarterbacks are getting younger. It seems unlikely that Anderson would start, but completely ruling it out isn't something people should do.

If one were to read between the lines of the conversations the staff had with recruits in this past recruiting cycle, one would come to the conclusion that a premium will be put on rushing the football and running the quarterback, particularly in the red zone. One would be inclined to believe that this year's starter will possess the ability to run and throw. The combatants can be assured that their decision-making skills will be put to the test through Spring and Fall camp.

The battle for the starting job will begin on March 10, when all players will report for spring workouts. The contest will likely carry over into the fall, but we should have some idea of where these quarterbacks fall after the Real California Milk Spring Showcase on April 5.

Let the competition begin.

Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2014 Fresno State season.

Josh Webb is a Staff Writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.


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