I’m going to write this once in hopes of not having to write it a thousand times.
I have no idea who Arizona’s starting quarterback is going to be next season.
Stop asking. I don’t know. Rich Rodriguez doesn’t know.
Seriously. Stop asking.
We won’t know until spring practice, and then we won’t know until fall camp, and then we very well might not know until the Wildcats take their first snap of the season against visiting UNLV on Aug. 30.
It will be fun. A free-for-all always is. Arizona projects to have seven quarterbacks of relative inexperience in the spring, five on scholarship, two walk-ons, all makes, all models. Running quarterbacks. Pocket passers. Dual threats.
A quarterback who began at LSU (Jerrard Randall). A quarterback who began at USC (Jesse Scroggins). A quarterback who began at Texas (Connor Brewer).
Even a quarterback who actually started games at Louisiana Tech (walk-on Nick Isham).
The 2013 recruiting gem (Anu Solomon) is ready to get started after a redshirt season. The 2013 walk-on (Adam Friederichsen) is here, in part, because of this door-wide-open opportunity in the spring.
And, in a very much not-least-kind-of-way, often-overlooked 2013 second-stringer Javelle Allen will be trying to climb that one final spot on the depth chart.
Which players are going to emerge? Who is going to win?
Don’t know. Don’t ask.
Any which way it turns out is fine by RichRod, who will tweak his zone-read offense to fit the skills of the new No. 1.
“We’re going to run what we run, but we have so much flexibility in our offense,” he said.
“Will you change the plays based on which quarterback is in there? Probably a little bit. But initially we’re going to make them do it all and see who’s the best at doing it all.”
The process will have to play out, and then Rodriguez and his staff will pick the quarterback flavor they like the best.
“Everybody says, why would you have seven instead of four?” Rodriguez said. “Well, you got to find at least two that can play. Your odds are better at seven than they are at four. We may have to take another one.”
Oh, yeah. True freshman Brandon Dawkins is set to sign in February and arrive in the summer.
This is quite the eclectic mix of quarterbacks, a unique situation in terms of the depth of the competition and the lack of anybody who is considered a front-runner. These seven quarterbacks have combined to throw 258 passes at the Division I level — 257 from Isham. (Allen has one pass attempt this season).
The Magnificent Seven? All we know for now is that they’re the Imminent Seven.
Beyond that …
“We have no clue right now,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said.
“All of them are going to need an entire offseason of conditioning. I wish we could have two springs before we actually played with somebody next year. We’ll see. We’ll try to get somebody ready.
“But we want someone just like we did this year — someone who can operate what we’re doing and get us first downs, take care of the football and make sure we’re in good plays and make sound decisions. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Allen emerged as the backup this season but the gulf between him and senior starter B.J. Denker was wide enough that Allen never got a meaningful snap, even when Denker struggled.
Allen won the second-string job over Scroggins (foot injury in the spring, concussion problems in fall camp) and Solomon, who just wasn’t ready after winning four state titles in a record-setting career at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School.
“It’s going to be a big spring for Jesse,” Rodriguez said of Scroggins, who will be the only senior among the quarterbacks. “He’s either going to be in the mix or he’s not by the end of spring.”
Solomon wasn’t shy in camp talking about wanting to win the starting job — which is the kind of confidence you want in a quarterback, but all the immediate expectations weren’t grounded in reality.
“It’s not high school anymore,” Smith said.
“I don’t where the fairy tale came where out of high school you go right in and be the guy at a major Division I college program. That very rarely happens. I know people like to think it happens, but it very rarely happens.”
There’s no alarm in Solomon not being able to contribute as a true freshman. The last two Heisman winners — Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston — sat out during their first season on campus before winning the stiff-armed trophy as redshirt freshmen.
“It’s a humbling experience for me,” Solomon said of redshirting. “Not playing, I’m like, ‘Dang, I wish I could be there.’ But it’s life.”
This is life: The new starter won’t be handed anything. You want it? Come get it.
It will be a fascinating race that defies prognostication.
I won’t be making any guesses. So don’t ask.
“It’s a clean slate. It’s a wide-open job,” Smith said.
“The guy who is going to get the job is the guy who deserves the job. The guy who works himself into it, works off the field, in the offices, in the film room, getting his mind ready, getting his body ready, and then once spring ball happens, makes plays on the field.”
Until then, patience.