Over the next month I'll preview every position for MSU football leading up to spring practices. I'll break down who is expected to start, who will fill the backup roles, who could be a sleeper, and issue a positional grade based on overall talent/experience and previous performance.
Today we'll start with the quarterbacks, one of the deeper positions on the team but one with limited experience. Classification is based off what the players will be for the 2016 season.
Expected starter: RSo. Nick Fitzgerald
Next in line: RSo. Elijah Staley
MSU is arguably deeper at QB than ever before, with four QB's that could potentially see playing time. The already mentioned Fitzgerald and Staley have all the intangibles at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 respectively with elusiveness in the pocket and excellent arm strength to throw the deep ball, especially Staley. They both showed that in non-conference action last season but we'll have to see how they handle SEC competition before truly getting a feel for their talents. Although they will both be redshirt sophomores, Fitz has seven months of experience on Staley because he arrived on campus for 2013 bowl practices. With Staley now solely focused on football (he was previously on the basketball team) he should be able to narrow the gap this spring. As for now, it's Fitzgerald's job to lose.
Don't sleep on: Rfr. Nick Tiano
Lost in the talk of Staley and Fitz was the rave reviews Nick Tiano received during December bowl practices. Tiano is another prototypical Mullen QB who can run the ball. Tiano also brings a solid arm to the table and is still evolving as a passer after playing in a run-heavy high school offense. Everything you hear about Tiano is Tebow-esque -- not necessarily because of what he brings on the field but what he brings as a leader. Tiano is one of the hardest workers on the team and can without a doubt fill the leadership void left by Dak Prescott's departure. He may not win the starting job next season but look for him to get on the field and showcase his potential as MSU's QB of the future.
Position Grade: B
Overall Dan Mullen has loads of talent to work with at quarterback. He has an array of options if things go south and the injury bug bites. We haven't even mentioned Damian Williams, who redshirted last season and has starting experience dating back to 2013. The depth and talent is there at this position, but experience is pretty limited. Fitzgerald and Staley likely won't match Dak Prescott's production this early in their careers, but they should be solid SEC quarterbacks with the potential to reach a Prescott level with one more year of seasoning.