Wisconsin Football: Analyzing the Badgers’ Quarterback Situation Next Season

The state of the Wisconsin’s quarterback position can be defined by one word: young. The Badgers will have four quarterbacks on next year’s roster, all being underclassmen. Alex Hornibrook will have the first shot to start at quarterback after starting nine games this past season. He is also the only quarterback to have any starting experience on the roster.

The Quarterbacks

The other returning quarterbacks on the roster are Kare Lyles and Garrett Groshek. Kare Lyles is a scholarship quarterback and was third string last season. Lyles will enter next season as a sophomore on the Badger’s roster. He is the son of former Badger Kevin Lyles, who played for Wisconsin from 1993-1996. The Badgers also recently signed his brother, Kayden Lyles, an offensive linemen in the class of 2017.

Garrett Groshek is a homegrown talent from Amherst, Wisconsin that led his Falcons to three straight state semifinals, including a state title in 2015. He was also named All-State his junior and senior year. Groshek was named Offensive Player of the Year in Wisconsin his senior season. He is listed at 5’11” and 205 pounds. Groshek isn’t likely to get many reps at quarterback this upcoming season.

Jan 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook (12) celebrates with offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel (66) after throwing a touchdown pass during the second half against the Western Michigan Broncos in the 2017 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Hornibrook should be the odds on favorite to be the Badger’s starting quarterback next season with good reason. He’s the only quarterback on the roster with any kind of experience at the quarterback position at the college ranks. In all likelihood, the most interesting competition will be for the role of backup quarterback. But there is one clear-cut player that has a higher ceiling than the rest. Jack Coan has the hype and skills behind him to be the Badger’s backup quarterback and potentially compete for the starting job.

Jack Coan

Coan is from West Sayville, New York and is listed at 6’3” and 190 pounds. He is listed as a pro-style quarterback, more of a pocket passer. Rivals.com lists Coan as a four-star recruit. He is also the tenth ranked pro-style quarterback in the class of 2017 and the third ranked prospect in the state of New York. Coan received offers from many high profile programs around the country including Miami, Michigan, West Virginia and Maryland before deciding on Wisconsin.
Even though Coan is a highly touted quarterback prospect, football wasn’t the only sport he excelled at. He grew up playing lacrosse and originally signed to play at Notre Dame.  But as he continued through the high school ranks, he drew interest from top football programs and his true love for football won out.  Coan credits his lacrosse experience with helping aid his football development.

High School

Scouts have described Coan as a quarterback who has good arm strength and fairly good accuracy. They also raved about his sense of poise on the field. Some have said that he doesn’t seem phased by the stage or the moment. He’s listed as a pocket passer or pro-style quarterback, but don’t let that fool you. Coan is an underrated athlete on the field. He does do a good job of evading defenders in the pocket and allowing for plays to develop downfield. In his junior season, Coan completed about 60 percent of his passes. He also threw for over 3,400 yards and 40 touchdowns. Early into his senior season,  Coan set two Long Island’s all-time passing records.

He now holds the all-time passing yards and touchdown record with over 7,800 passing yards and 101 passing touchdowns. Coan secured these records in the first couple games of his senior season. Let that sink in! To end his senior season, he led his team to yet another state championship game. Coan finished his senior season throwing for over 2,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was named Gatorade State Player of the Year in New York his senior season.

Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

If Coan can use his good arm and accuracy, as well as his ability to buy time in the pocket, he could potentially make some noise next season. Despite all of his skills, the one that stands out on the field is his poise. Poise is a characteristic that coach Paul Chryst looks for in a quarterback. Coan is one of the highest rated recruits that Wisconsin has signed since Curt Phillips.

Looking to the Offseason

Coan has a good shot at winning the backup quarterback role and possibly competing for the starting nod down the line. Hornibrook showed promise this season and at times looked like a legitimate Power Five conference starter. Hornibrook should benefit from more reps this offseason and claim his role as starter. However, Badger fans will want to keep their eye on Jack Coan as he competes for a job this offseason.

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