Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 29, 2015

I took a look at the backup quarterback situations in the Big Ten West yesterday.

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As I mentioned there, Ohio State proved just how important quarterback depth was last season. No team may boast that kind of depth under center again, but it's necessary to take a look at the backups should injury strike.

Here is a look at the backup quarterback situations in the Big Ten East.

When senior Nate Sudfeld went down last year with a shoulder injury, America got a look at Zander Diamont. And, it wasn?t pretty. Oh, he had a fancy name and delicious back story tied to Hollywood. But the kid wasn?t ready to play as a true freshman. How many quarterbacks are? The staff would like to redshirt the 6-1, 175-pound sophomore. That means Danny Cameron could be the No. 2 man behind Sudfeld. The redshirt freshman?s claim to fame? He?s Cam Cameron?s son. Junior Nate Boudreau also is in the mix. And keep an eye on true freshman Austin King, who has an exciting future.

Caleb Rowe is coming off a knee injury. In fact, the junior has struggled to stay healthy in his entire career. He is the presumptive starter but will be pushed by Oklahoma State grad transfer Daxx Garman, who never impressed while in Stillwater. Junior Perry Hills is in reserve and made strides in the spring. Hills started the first seven games of 2012 before suffering a knee injury. He redshirted in 2013 and played in three games last year. Sophomore Shane Cockerille has switched to fullback.

The Wolverines are still trying to figure out who will be their starter. There are options galore in junior Shane Morris, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and true freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry. But the best (and safest) option of the bunch may be steady Iowa transfer Jake Rudock, who is smart and experienced. A best guess: Rudock will start and be backed up by Morris. But expect the depth chart to be fluid. And watch Gentry and/or Malzone make a move at some time.

The Spartans have a great starter in senior Connor Cook. And Michigan State has nice options behind Cook. Junior Tyler O?Connor is the prototype and has been the backup the last two years. O?Connor has completed 21-of-30 passes (.700) for 241 yards and two touchdowns in eight career games. He can get the job done. Sophomore Damion Terry has potential and brings high potential-along with some high risk. Still, his skill set is intriguing. Terry played in five games in 2014, hitting 12-of-19 passes for 88 yards.

The quarterback situation in Columbus has been much scrutinized. The position came into sharper focus with recent reports that senior Braxton Miller will move to receiver/H-back. That leaves Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett to battle and co-exist. Each has a good shot to play-whoever wins the job–so it?s difficult calling either a ?backup.? Regardless, OSU will have an elite quarterback wearing a headset.

Junior Christian Hackenberg is the unquestioned ?man.? Should he miss time, the Nittany Lions like backup Trace McSorley, a dual-threat redshirt freshman who looked good in the spring and brings a bit of a different dimension to the field than Hackenberg. True freshman Tommy Stevens is developing. Remember when Michael O?Connor was a hyped four-star recruit? He transferred after last year.

The Scarlet Knights are still looking for a replacement for Gary Nova. Sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig will continue their competition in camp, as neither gained significant separation in the spring. Laviano can move and throw on the run, seeing a bit of playing time in 2014 in hitting 11-of-28 passes for 107 yards with a pick. Rettig-whose brother Chase was a three-year starter at Boston College–sat out last year after transferring from LSU. He has a big arm and was the more touted recruit.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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