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June 18, 2012
Two-QB classes all about competition
Marietta (Ga.) Walton quarterback Parker McLeod
The three-star quarterback prospect considered Alabama the right fit academically, athletically and socially. There was just one hangup. Another 2013 quarterback -- one with a higher rating, in fact -- already had announced his intentions to play for the Crimson Tide.
It apparently wasn't a deal-breaker.
McLeod went with his gut and committed to Alabama earlier this month, even if that meant having to compete with Rivals100 quarterback Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood.
"At first, it made me step back and think about it a little bit," McLeod said. "But after talking to the coaches, they were pretty reassuring. So in the end, it wasn't too much of a factor."
Plenty of other quarterback recruits across the country face similar dilemmas.
Eleven schools thus far have commitments from two quarterbacks, but that number should increase significantly as we move closer to National Signing Day. Three dozen programs signed multiple quarterbacks in 2012.
If schools have depth-chart concerns that require them to take two quarterbacks, that's what they're going to do. For instance, Alabama needed to shore up its quarterback depth because Phillip Sims transferred to Virginia.
It's up to the individual quarterback to determine whether he welcomes that type of competition within his own class.
"Some won't want to go to a (school with a) two-quarterback class," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "Others will see it as advantageous, because they're on an even playing field with their competition and they feel confident enough in themselves that they can compete."
That's the way McLeod looked at it.
"I knew there would be competition wherever I went, so it didn't really matter that much to me," McLeod said. "The coaches assured me we'd both get an equal shot to compete against each other."
Alabama's situation is interesting because of the difference in ratings between the two quarterbacks. At most schools that have commitments from multiple quarterbacks, the two contenders have similar rankings. And they occasionally have different styles as well.
For example, Texas A&M has commitments from Rivals250 prospects Kenny Hill (the Class of 2013's No. 7 dual-threat quarterback) and Kohl Stewart (the No. 10 pro-style quarterback). LSU has pledges from Rivals100 prospect Hayden Rettig (the No. 4 pro-style quarterback) and four-star recruit Anthony Jennings (the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback).
But there are a few exceptions.
McLeod is a three-star prospect planning to compete with a Rivals100 recruit. Boston College's quarterback recruits include two-star prospect Mackay Lowrie of West Roxbury (Mass.) Roxbury Latin and Middletown (Conn.) Xavier's Tim Boyle, who has the highest possible three-star rating of 5.7.
Chad Kanoff, a three-star prospect from North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, chose Vanderbilt even though the Commodores already had a commitment from Rivals100 prospect Johnathon McCrary of Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove. If he sticks to his commitment and maintains his current ranking as the nation's No. 100 recruit, McCrary would become the highest-rated player to sign with Vanderbilt since the current version of Rivals.com started in 2002.
"You're going to have to compete wherever you go," Kanoff said. "It's not really a huge thing. They don't have as many [quarterbacks] who are older - sophomores and juniors. So you're competing with someone in your grade as opposed to competing with someone who's two grades above you."
The only full-time scholarship quarterbacks currently on Vanderbilt's roster are Jordan Rodgers, Austyn Carta-Samuels and true freshman Patton Robinette. Rodgers will complete his college career this season and Carta-Samuels has just two years of eligibility remaining.
Those are the types of depth-chart concerns that often cause schools to sign two quarterbacks in one year. For example, Arkansas got commitments from a pair of 2013 quarterbacks because it didn't sign a quarterback in 2012 and lost depth at the position when Jacoby Walker transferred.
Kanoff can take comfort in the fact that history shows the lower-rated prospect in these situations occasionally ends up having the better career.
Justin Zwick signed with Ohio State in 2002 as the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 40 overall prospect. Ohio State's class that year also included Troy Smith, a four-star recruit rated outside the Rivals100. Smith eventually beat out Zwick and won the 2006 Heisman Trophy.
Kanoff, McLeod and Lowrie won't necessarily develop into the next Troy Smith, but each prospect understands the situation facing him and is going in with eyes wide open.
Lowrie lives 20 minutes from Boston College's campus and attends one or two home games per year. A little competition wasn't going to stop him from living out his dream of playing for his hometown school.
"That's what I wanted to do, play in front of friends and family," Lowrie said.
Lowrie committed a month before Boyle but noted that Boston College's coaches let him know they were planning to sign two quarterbacks in this recruiting class. They even called Lowrie shortly after Boyle committed to make sure he wouldn't get the news through the Internet or a reporter.
Most of the other quarterbacks in this situation said that schools kept them similarly informed. They have the same attitude as Kanoff and Lowrie. They'll have to compete with someone on the roster anyway, so what's the big deal if they aren't the only quarterback in their signing class?
"It doesn't really make a difference to me," said Orlando (Fla.) Boone's Alton Meeks, who has committed to Cincinnati along with Massillon (Ohio) Washington's Kyle Kempt. "If I'm not the best in the class, I don't really deserve to play. No matter where you go, there's going to be competition. There are always guys above you and guys coming in every year.''
Of course, it's easy to have that attitude now. Only time will tell whether they still feel that way if they fall behind their classmate on the depth chart.
The situations at Texas A&M, LSU and Virginia Tech certainly bear watching. Texas A&M and LSU both have commitments from two four-star quarterbacks. Virginia Tech's commitment list includes the Class of 2013's No. 12 pro-style quarterback (Bucky Hodges) and the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback (Carlis Parker).
"Every time you see two four-star quarterbacks [in one class], you sort of wait for one of them to emerge as the guy and the other to transfer," Farrell said. "It usually doesn't work out, but coaches don't care. They'll take two [quarterbacks] to get one. They don't have a problem with that because you only have one who starts anyway."
The Texas A&M situation could work itself well before the fall of 2013. Stewart committed to Texas A&M before the firing of Mike Sherman and is currently listed as a "soft verbal." Stewart also is an outstanding baseball prospect who could get selected early in next year's draft, forcing him to choose between the two sports.
If he ends up playing for the Aggies after all, he will display the same tenacity that helped make him such an outstanding two-sport athlete. That competitive zeal is shared by all the other quarterbacks facing this type of situation.
That's particularly true of Fayetteville (Ark.) quarterback Austin Allen, who faces the most unique challenge of all. Not only will he be competing with someone in his own class, he also will be battling someone in his own family.
Allen has committed to Arkansas along with fellow three-star quarterback Tyler Cogswell of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage. Allen's the younger brother of Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, who will be a redshirt freshman this fall.
"We played on the same high school team, when I was a sophomore and he was a senior," Allen said of his brother. "He taught me a lot. It will be fun competing against him. We'll be fine with it. He'll teach me a lot. I've competed with him my whole life pretty much.''
Allen certainly knows a great deal about one of the quarterbacks he'll eventually be competing with at Arkansas, but he isn't nearly as familiar with Cogswell. Allen said he hasn't spoken to Cogswell yet, though he's looking forward to meeting him.
That isn't unusual. Nearly all the recruits interviewed for this story indicated they hadn't yet communicated with the other quarterback who has committed to their school.
After all, they'll have plenty of time to get to know each other once they get on campus.
"It's going to be a lot of fun competing with him," said Temple (Texas) quarterback Zach Allen, who has committed to Syracuse along with Enola (Pa.) East Pennsboro quarterback Austin Wilson. "Hopefully, we make each other better and we become friends instead of enemies.
"Just let the best quarterback play, I guess."