Now that we’ve profiled all five quarterbacks in the running for this year’s starting job, we at the W&M Sports Blog wanted to take a quick pulse check throughout Tribe Nation. Which QB do you want to see under center on the September 2 Season Opener at UVA? To get you up to speed, we’ve included high-level spark notes on each of the individual quarterbacks, in order, from youngest to oldest.
If you so choose, feel free to click into the individual articles for each quarterback, listed below to learn more about them! Study up, do your homework, and most importantly, VOTE at the bottom of the post! Roll Damn Tribe.
Shon Mitchell – True Freshman
The prospect of a multi-year, and potentially four-year, starting QB makes us very, very happy (and let’s not forget that Dean Rotger and Teddy Hefter are also Redshirt Freshmen). Of course, if Shon did start next season, there would be growing pains. Opposing Head Coaches and their savvy Defensive Coordinators would welcome the opportunity to throw new looks, blitzes and defensive packages at an unseasoned freshman who was in high school just last year.
However, we think Shon has the ability to up his game against strong competition. He’s shown time and again that he can compete, and win, big games in the highly competitive “757” area code of Virginia High School Football. He does it both on the ground (#11 dual-threat QB in the country per 247 Sports at the time of commitment) and through the air (Virginia High School All-Time Passing Leader). His intangibles off the field leave people asking if they just spoke to a grown man, or a young freshman. And let’s not forget, big-time football schools such as Virginia Tech (even if they aren’t actually that great at beating good teams) and Nebraska had strong interest in him, with Tech offering and Nebraska about to offer. We believe we have a keeper in Shon, and will see if he’s up to the challenge this offseason.
Ted Hefter – Redshirt Freshman
To say that Hefter was one of the shining stars during this year’s Spring Game would be an understatement. He was the shining star, finishing 10 of 13 for 132 yards and 2 TDs. Ted was decisive on his reads, boasted a solid command of the offense, and found a serious running mate in fellow redshirt freshman TE Josh Stallings, who hauled in both of Ted’s touchdown passes.
Hefter has come a long way from the time that he knocked on the coach’s door, earning himself a walk on spot. We love his story, and love his game on the field even more. We’re rooting for him and look forward to what he can potentially do for this team in the future — but for now, we deem him a darkhorse candidate to win the starting job.
Dean Rotger – Redshirt Freshman
Dean came to the Tribe via Poughkeepsie, NY, after destroying records in high school at Our Lady of Lourdes. While there, he was a four-year letterwinner, setting records for career passing yards (6,827) and touchdowns (83). He also finished his career with 1,216 rushing yards — flashing some scary dual-threat abilities. All of these individual accolades did not go unnoticed, as he was named a two-time team captain en route to leading his team to four conference championships and a state title.
Rotger finished last season as the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year, meaning that the coaches know how much potential he has. Given more reps this summer, don’t be surprised if Rotger shoots up the boards to become the starting QB heading into the season opener at UVA.
Brandon Battle – Redshirt Sophomore
Battle is known for his incredibly strong arm, and he likely has the strongest arm of anyone in this QB competition. He is also, like junior Tommy McKee, a threat to run the ball on any given play — always a welcome, added bonus for a dynamic collegiate offense. He is also the second most experienced QB on the team, behind McKee. Battle has had the luxury of learning behind Steve Cluley the last two seasons, and the ability to participate in dozens of practices to boot. With an arm like Battle’s, if he can master the playbook, he’ll be a serious contender for the starting job this Fall.
Despite boasting a quiet demeanor on the field, don’t count out Battle’s leadership. He was a three-time captain of his high school team, exuding a calm confidence that this offense needs. He may not be a vocal leader, but his hard work and drive will undoubtedly earn the respect of his teammates.
In the end, Battle is an intriguing player. Many Tribe fans are feeling the hype surrounding true freshman QB Shon Mitchell. Some conservative Tribe fans like the experience of Tommy McKee. Others like Dean Rotger‘s potential. And some really like this year’s Spring Game star, walk on Ted Hefter. We say, don’t count out Battle. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if he took the reigns this offseason and became the starter for the season opener vs. UVA. And if that were to happen, we would be in full support of the Tribe’s newest dual-threat, big armed leader under center.
Tommy McKee – Redshirt Junior
Tommy is the only quarterback in the competition that has actual collegiate playing experience. He has been the backup to former QB Steve Cluley the past 2 years, as both a freshman and sophomore. As a freshman, McKee saw action in 3 games. His biggest performance came against Richmond in the second round of the playoffs. In limited time, he finished 3/3 for 43 yards, 0 TD. In his sophomore season, he saw playing time as well, this time against NC State. In that game, he completed his only pass for 7 yards. In the classroom, Tommy has earned CAA Academic All-Conference Honors the previous two seasons, and was also honored as the W&M Quarterback Club Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, his freshman season.
McKee’s primary advantage is his knowledge of the playbook and having been in the system for several years (3, to be exact). His head start on the aforementioned playbook will need to stand out vs. the much younger underclassmen if he is to win the starting job this Fall.
Bottom line is, we all know how much Coach Laycock loves experienced quarterbacks who really know the playbook. He relies on this experience to minimize mistakes and avoid turnovers. McKee may not be the best quarterback of the bunch in terms of overall skill throwing the ball, but he will likely make the fewest errors on game day — at least at this point. And we’re sure this is very appealing to Coach Laycock, as it has always been in the past.
W&M Sports Blog Poll: Which QB Do You WANT to Start?
So now that you’ve done your research, which QB do you want to start? Naturally, this question is far different from the Bonus Poll below — which asks which QB you think will actually start. We’re sure there will be folks who answer the same for each, but we’re curious to see if there’s a difference. Either way, fulfill your American duty by voting! #OneTribe
Bonus Poll: Which QB Do You THINK Will Start?
Any way you slice it, the eventual starter will have several weapons to work with on offense this season, which include senior captain and tight end Andrew Caskin, speedster DeVonte Dedmon, sure-handed receivers Daniel Kuzjak and Jack Armstrong, as well as former four-star recruit and former University of South Carolina transfer Jalen Christian. We’re excited to see how this all plays out, and look forward to analyzing Tribe Nation’s votes above. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!