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College football spring practices feature quarterback competitions

No program in the Bowl Subdivision has bigger shoes to fill at quarterback than LSU, which must replace Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow after one of the great seasons in college football history. But the Tigers have a clear picture of who’s next in junior Myles Brennan, who has spent three years in a reserve role as he’s worked to add weight to what was once a lanky frame.

Others may need to dig a little deeper to supplant a departed starter. For many programs, spring marks the start of a months-long competition between two or even three contenders for the starting job. An unfortunate few may see this competition bleed into September.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones rolls out to pass against Western Carolina during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Let’s evaluate some of the biggest and most crucial quarterback fights across the FBS as the spring gets underway, beginning with LSU’s fiercest rival for the SEC West, outright SEC championship and potential spot in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama

Top contenders: Mac Jones (Jr.), Bryce Young (Fr.)

Six or seven years ago, the idea that Nick Saban would start a true freshman over a semi-established junior would’ve seemed ridiculous — but then Alabama’s longtime coach gave the nod to Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, so all bets are off. While Jones did a commendable job as Tagovailoa’s replacement last November, Young brings the credibility of being the nation’s top-ranked quarterback and one of the top prospects overall.  

SPRING PREVIEWS:ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Group of Five 

SPRING BATTLE:Five-star recruit Bryce Young talks Alabama QB competition

LOOKING AHEAD:USA TODAY Sports early Top 25 for the 2020 season

Southern California

Top contenders: JT Daniels (So.), Kedon Slovis (So.)

Daniels was the quarterback of the future after enrolling early in 2018, starting as a true freshman and then holding onto the starting job heading into the start of last season. After injuring his knee in the opener, however, Daniels saw Slovis step into the lineup and thrive in coordinator Graham Harrell’s scheme. Slovis ended up completing 71.9% of his throws and 30 touchdowns in making a very strong case to remain the starter. (Not bad for a quarterback who had barely a tenth of Daniels’ recruiting hype.) Since Daniels lost the job due to injury, it seems fair that Harrell and Clay Helton would give each sophomore a chance to make his case this offseason. 

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