Handicapping South Carolina's quarterback competition
For the first time in several years, there’s a quarterback controversy heading into spring practice for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Steve Spurrier isn’t sure who will be his team’s starter under center following the departure of fifht-year senior Dylan Thompson, who somehow played more than 95 percent of the snaps last season despite an offensive line that gave up the fourth-most sacks in the SEC.
Handicapping the race a week before practice is set to begin, let’s look at the candidates:
Sophomore Connor Mitch (Six career passes)
THE SKINNY: The most talented player of the bunch, Mitch appears to be the most game-ready option with the best arm. A highly-touted four-star in South Carolina’s 2013 class, the Raleigh, N.C. native could potentially be a multi-year starter under center like Connor Shaw, but that’s assuming he’ll outshine others this spring and be motivated to perform. Spurrier has already tried lighting a fire under the pocket passer this offseason, calling him out during an interview for being the only one of three quarterbacks not in the weight room that afternoon. Mitch opens spring practice as the favorite with the highest ceiling.
Junior Perry Orth (Three career passes)
THE SKINNY: This former walk-on could be more than just an emergency fill-in this season if he continues to develop. Orth seems to thrive off competition and all signs point to him at least being the Gamecocks’ primary No. 2 after holding that role last season behind Thompson. He doesn’t have the arm talent of his equals, but is experienced and will need to show assistant coach G.A. Mangus he is a confident decision-maker.
Freshman Lorenzo Nunez
THE SKINNY: We won’t see what this true freshman really has until the fall, but coaches are high on his ability to come in and make an immediate impact. Ideally, South Carolina would like to redshirt Nunez and bring him along slowly, but that’s only if Mitch, Orth and Scarnecchia play well this spring. Depending on how those three perform over the next month, Nunez could be in the mix in August thanks to a level of athleticism that exceeds all challengers. He can move.
RS-Freshman Michael Scarnecchia; Junior Brendan Nosovitch (Two career passes)
THE SKINNY: Scarnecchia was handpicked by Spurrier as an under-recruited project in the 2014 class, someone who could eventually develop into an SEC-caliber passer. He’s a kid with a strong work ethic and football knowledgeable. Spurrier had several of those level quarterbacks at Florida, and they turned out pretty good. Nosovitch remains a mystery, a burly part-time tight end who was invited back to join the competition (probably because it’s wide open at this time) in January. He’s an ideal short-yardage option thanks to a 225-pound frame, but he lacks poise in the pocket. Nosovitch, who has threatened to transfer before, will likely leave if he doesn’t land at least the No. 2 spot heading into summer. He’s the least likely of the five to earn the starting gig, but does give Spurrier another player to scout and grade.