The Marcus Mariota years are a thing of the past for Ducks’ fans, as sad as it is we will see a new face leading this incredible offense next season. The question is this: who will that quarterback be? Vernon Adams announced this week that he has officially committed to transferring to Oregon from Eastern Washington and is the leading candidate. Adams has had a strong career at Eastern Washington, racking up more than 10,000 yards and 110 passing touchdowns. While he may not have the same blazing speed that made Mariota so fierce, Adams is no slouch, rushing for 605 yards in 2013 and six touchdowns in 2014.
While he is no Mariota, we are not expecting him to be. He can throw, he can run, and he has three years of experience under his belt. No, the FCS is not the same as the FBS, but when Adams faced Washington this year he threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. The problem, as Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com reports, is time. Adams will not be able to work with the team until June, ruling him out of spring practices and leaving the starting quarterback position for the spring game up for grabs.
Jeff Lockie will be the first name that comes to mind for most of us, as we have seen him backing up Mariota for the past two seasons. If it comes down to experience with the offense, Lockie is the most likely to step up (you can’t work with Mariota for two years and not learn a thing or two). The problems with inserting Lockie into this role are his lack of experience– he only attempted 28 passes all season– and competition from sophomore-to-be Morgan Mahalak as well as a new face in Travis Waller.
Mahalak was a four-star prospect in the 2014 recruitment class. SBNation.com ranked him as the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback prospect and the 21st best in California. Despite a lack of experience, physical talent does not just disappear, and we can be sure that Mahalak is looking forward to his shot at stardom.
Waller is a four-star prospect who ranked as the third-best dual-threat quarterback in this year’s recruiting class by Rivals.com. Waller put together impressive numbers in high school, passing for 3,361 yards and 26 touchdowns, 2,133 rushing yards and another 26 touchdowns on the ground over 23 games. As Jennings points out though, despite these numbers and unless he has an exceptional spring, he will most likely redshirt his freshman season.
Which brings us full circle to Adams, who despite not having a chance to work with the team until June will most likely be the one calling the shots on the field this season. What is important to remember is that Adams is a senior, and even if Mahalak and Waller don’t get the chance to play in 2015, their battle has already begun.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline