Reggie Ball, Patrick Carter, Taylor Bennett, Mark Logan, Kyle Manley
Reggie entered Georgia Tech spring football practice as the uncontested number one quarterback. His performance in spring more or less looked like a growing and learning experience rather than a platform for him to distance himself from the competition on the team. Reggie, you need to keep in mind, was still technically a freshman but with his surprising freshman season, you kind of expected a little more out of him. He did pick up some new wrinkles like the shotgun formation and some new plays and formations. Additionally, he had to find a new go-to guy as a receiver since his top target from last season Jonathan Smith has moved on to the NFL. Curry looked to be that guy but he missed a good bit of time in the middle of spring practice which forced Ball to look down the line and find another combination that worked. Another factor that could have improved his spring performance is the running game. A lot of times full contact was off for quarterbacks, so we couldn’t see him using his strength of making something out of nothing. I am not concerned about Reggie still as we head into summer but I would like to see improvements in his passing accuracy. If there is any area that could force a quarterback controversy, it would be if someone were to move much further ahead of Reggie in their ability to get the ball to the receivers. In spring I didn’t see such a challenge but we do have some players that showed ability to possibly be that guy in the future. Ball will start in game one, so throw any other thoughts out of your head. As long as we get wins under Reggie, he’ll remain the one to beat, even if he’s not completely where he needs to be just yet.
As for Reggie’s competition, there are two that showed some real ability in spring and another good one on his way to the team in fall. I’m kind of leaving out Mark Logan but he played his role well in spring and deserves credit for what he did. He played the backup role while Carter was injured and Bennett was getting up to speed. In later practices Logan moved back to wide receiver for some drills. In my opinion Mark is a good one to have around as an emergency backup quarterback. Since we would like to redshirt both freshman quarterbacks and Pat Carter looks like a solid backup, I see Mark’s role as a wide receiver and the third quarterback, only to be used there in the dire case of both Ball and Carter being injured.
Going back to Carter… he sat out a lot of the earlier practices with a knee injury. He did participate in throwing drills though and always looked good. When he finally got into some scrimmages and the spring game, he really showed what he was capable of. He’s not to the point yet where he’ll take away the starting role from Reggie but he has the ability and talent to put some major pressure on him. Should our record suffer early in the season, I’m sure the calls for Carter will get louder. In the mean time, Pat needs to continue to work on his intangibles. He needs to toughen up his reputation and needs to show some leadership abilities to where his teammates will be as comfortable following him onto the field as they are now with Ball.
Taylor Bennett pushed hard for the backup role as well. While he naturally struggled in early practices, Taylor showed some passing and leadership skills that made the coaching staff very excited about his future with the team. He’s a solid guy and the players seem to have grown an early liking to him, which can be important for success at the quarterback position. He has a smooth left-handed throwing motion and just has the look of a quarterback. Like Carter, he’s tall, strong armed and mobile for a big guy (although not as mobile as Carter). The speed of the game seemed a little much for Taylor early on and he wasn’t getting the ball out of his hands quickly enough. But he grew throughout spring and I’m sure he’s very glad he enrolled early. This spring experience will prove invaluable for his development. Taylor is a positive person and seemed very open to coaching too. The final piece of the quarterback puzzle is Kyle Manley. We haven’t seen how Kyle will perform on this team yet but he did show his face several times at the spring practices. He seems ready for the challenge. He wanted to not get too far behind so he was there paying attention to the lingo and getting a feel for the speed of the game. His addition in fall will only make the future of this position even brighter at GT.