A year removed from starting a rotation of unproven passers, Rice football has a quarterback room with plenty of depth entering 2019.
Wiley Green was the scout team quarterback during fall camp last season. By the time the Owls played their final game, he was the starting quarterback. The reasons for Green’s ascent are two-fold. First, he’s really good at football. Second, the depth chart ahead of him became a MASH unit by season’s end.
Shawn Stankavage and Evan Marshman both suffered multi-week injuries. Jackson Tyner and Parker Towns had work to do in other areas. That propelled Green, a player whom the coaches still had complete trust in despite his standing on the depth chart, into the starting role.
He’ll be the frontrunner for the job entering 2019, but he’ll have company. Harvard transfer Tom Stewart has a live arm and didn’t come in to sit. Marshman will be back and healthy, as will Towns. And last year alone is proof that incoming freshman Jovoni Johnson could play his way to the top spot if the right circumstances arise.
Ideally, Johnson gets at least one year in the system under his belt before playing meaningful snaps at Rice. Even still, the combination of Green, Stewart and Marshman gives Rice three starting caliber players who’ve played meaningful college football games. Entering last fall the Owls really only had one proven passer, Tyner, and he wasn’t able to win the job. It’s not too much of an overstatement to say Rice has more than doubled their depth at quarterback in one offseason.
Green, Marshman and Towns got their feet wet this spring. Now it’s time for each of them to hit the books and learn this offense inside and out. If they can master the mental aspect of the game the results will be felt in tangible ways this fall.
Having lots of quarterbacks doesn’t win you games. Head coach Mike Bloomgren found that out the hard way in 2018. But having multiple quarterbacks who have played “big-time college football”, as Bloomgren is known to say, could be the difference in multiple close finishes. The pecking order isn’t set, but the depth at the quarterback position is better than ever.