The Minnesota Golden Gophers have little experience returning at quarterback again for the second straight season. After suffering their second quarterback transfer in as many off seasons, they have just one signal caller on the roster with collegiate experience.
Third-year sophomore Mitch Leidner spent last season getting experience to back up Philip Nelson, and earning a shot at the starting job in 2014. Then Nelson decided to transfer and Leidner was given the first shot being the starter. The Gophers are still waiting for Leidner’s passing skills to reach their potential. He was more of a pocket passer in high school, but has made a name for himself as a runner in college.
If he can’t put his passing ability together, the Gophers have redshirt freshman Chris Streveler as the expected backup. He is a highly athletic runner, but missed all of last season because of a thumb injury. All accounts suggest the injury is healed and won’t be a problem when practices start.
Also pushing for playing time is redshirt freshman Conor Rhoda and true freshman Dimonic Roden-McKinzy. Roden-McKinzy is the only early enrollee to this freshman class, which will allow him to have an extra semester of practice and schoolwork in before his first season.
Like Rhoda, true freshman Jacques Perra is a highly accomplished walk-on. Both provide depth and passing ability.
Projected Depth Chart
First Team - 7 Mitch Leidner, RS SO, Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville South High School)
Second Team - 5 Chris Streveler, RS FR, Crystal Lake, Ill. (Marian Central Catholic High School)
Third Team - 2 Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, FR, Kansas City, Kan. (Wyandotte High School)
Fourth Tean - 15 Conor Rhoda, RS FR, Eagan, Minn. (Cretin-Derham Hall High School)
Fifth Team - 18 Jacques Perra, FR, Roseville, Minn. (Roseville Area High School)
The Rest of the Division
Illinois Fighting Illini - Nathan Scheelhaase graduated. The starting job this season is a battle between Riley O’Toole, last season’s backup, and Wes Lunt, a transfer from Oklahoma State. Lunt sat out last season, but is expected to win the starting job.
Iowa Hawkeyes - Jake Rudock returns as the starter. There isn’t much, if any, competition to take the job from him.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Taylor Martinez and Ron Kellogg III are graduated. The only other quarterback on the roster with experience is Tommy Armstrong, Jr. He went 7-1 while Martinez was hurt and is considered a returning starter.
Northwestern Wildcats - Kain Colter is graduated. Trevor Siemian split time with Colter and is likely to be the starter.
Purdue Boilermakers - Danny Etling returns as the starter. Fellow sophomore Austin Appleby is going to make a run at the starting job despite a poor spring game performance.
Wisconsin Badgers - Joel Stave returns as the starter. He is going to be pushed by Tanner McEvoy and Bart Houston, but neither are likely to take the job.