Don’t expect Arizona’s QB crowd to thin any time soon

Rich Rodriguez on the competition to replace B.J. Denker as Arizona's starting quarterback: 'They are eager to learn. But it's a wide open deal.'

Casey Sapio/Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

TUCSON, Ariz. — About a month ago, Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez sauntered up to the media after his team’s first spring practice and said he’ll have no information about the starting quarterback. And it’ll be months — maybe August, September — when he’d have anything set in stone.

The QB to be?

"Good luck in figuring it out," he said.

Nothing much has changed with three practices and a spring game remaining before the Wildcats break for the summer. Arizona was set to scrimmage in Phoenix on Friday but has instead scheduled a regular practice in part because it needs the work. The annual spring game will still be April 12.

Who is the front-runner to this point? if there is one, well, Rodriguez wouldn’t say this week. Nor would he tell his family, he said.

What would be the point?

"In all honesty," he said, "I won’t know until the end of fall camp."

The quarterbacks also understand what happens in the spring doesn’t mean it will happen in the fall.

It’s a "fluid" situation.

"You just have to keep working," redshirt freshman Anu Solomon said. "If he picked someone random today . . . we’d be ready."

Things, however, aren’t all bad in the quarterback department, however, in as much as Rodriguez has seven quarterbacks to choose from, plus two more arriving in the fall.

"I don’t expect us to have a pecking order by the (end of the) spring," he said.

Solomon is in the hunt, but the same can be said for senior Jesse Scroggins, who started his career at USA, and Texas transfer Connor Brewer.

Solomon said he considers himself much better prepared for the competition than he was last fall. "I have the right mindset," he said. "Knowing coverages, knowing defensive fronts. . . . I feel I’ve gotten to the point to where they want me to be, but I have to keep working at it."

And then there’s junior college transfer Jerrard Randall, who began his career at LSU.

 "He’s got a cannon for an arm and he can run, but everything right now is a cloud," Rodriguez said. "With this being his first spring, he’s learned pretty well. But he’s the last one to this party. He’s gotten better. He’ll be in the mix, too."

Texas transfer Brewer has an advantage over Randall in that he was with the program in the fall as a redshirt.

"In high school he was a tough competitive guy and who had a great feel for the game," Rodriguez said. "I thought he was an active thrower. He’s learned and has a pretty good grasp of what we are doing."

Said Brewer, a former star at Chaparral High in Scottsdale: "I’ve learned the most I ever have. It’s fun. Whether it’s getting yelled out or whatever, you’re growing as a quarterback."

The competition has been good for everyone. And every chance at a snap is like gold.

"The rep you get, that’s the rep that it is," said Scroggins. "There are a lot of guys so you’re not going to get into a rhythm. What rhythm you have is what you have. Coach Rod is hoping you make the best of the opportunity. That’s why there is no certain order.

The pressure is on the individual because it’s up to them "to know everything. They aren’t going to throw anything at you. It’s not like a foreign language," Scroggins said.

By this time last year, Arizona had its front-runner in B.J. Denker, although Rodriguez changed gears in the fall and said he hadn’t won the position until a week into the season. This spring Rodriguez said "it’s a wide-open deal, it truly is and will be until the fall."

Without naming names to get a sense of what could be happening, Rodriguez said one through five "is pretty bunched up."

"I thought by now there would be a little bit more separation," Rodriguez said. "But there hasn’t been."

He said the quality of quarterback play has varied practice by practice.

"But they are a very conscientious group," Rodriguez said. "When I ask questions they give the right answers. I’m going to keep putting them under the gun so I can get some sense of order."

Rodriguez likes to his team and his quarterback to feel "comfortable with the uncomfortable."

"€œI haven’t been all negative on them,€" he said. "€œWhen they do (well), we tell them and when they do bad, we tell them that, too.

"They are eager to learn. But it’s a wide open deal."

He said he feels good about having a number of options to choose among, but his biggest question is are they good enough to win with?

"They are all getting better. It’s working out OK," Rodriguez said.