EUGENE - Yesterday I reported that Oregon freshman quarterback Justin Herbert had been turning heads this fall camp but more than likely would redshirt behind senior starter Dakota Prukop and redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen.
Errr! Not so fast.
Several sources have told CSN that Herbert has been taking second team reps. On Tuesday, when asked if Herbert had done enough during camp to contend for the backup job, Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick didn't hesitate to answer in the affirmative.
"Yes he has," Lubick said. "That's a guy who wasn't here during spring ball, who came out this fall camp and as far as learning what we ask him to do, and not pare it down, he's been unbelievable. He's done a great job executing things. He's done a great job of keeping poise and calmness. He is picking things up. So yeah, he is definitely in the battle."
Now, one could label Lubick's comments as coach speak. But there's no benefit to hyping up a freshman quarterback at all. In fact, Oregon coaches have recently only done that once and that was with - drum roll - Marcus Mariota.
In fact, some have compared Herbert to Mariota in terms of his gift for being a quick study, having great poise beyond his years and simply getting it. Plus, the 6-foot-6 former Sheldon High School star can sling it and run with surprising speed, given his height, according to UO quarterbacks coach David Yost.
Be that as it may, even Mariota redshirted in 2011 behind junior starter Darron Thomas and redshirt freshman backup Bryan Bennett before beating out Bennett for the starting job in 2012.
As of right now, however, it appears Herbert might be more likely to remain available to play rather than redshirt.
Oregon redshirt junior running back Kani Benoit, during a one-on-one interview today with CSN, said Prukop and Herbert were battling it out during practice. When asked if that meant Herbert was the No. 2, Benoit said he didn't know the depth chart and that all four quarterbacks, which includes freshman Terry Wilson Jr., had been looking good in practice.
Entering the season, Jonsen had the clear inside track to at least the No. 2 job and was said by coaches to be in contention for the starting job. Now it appears that it's possible Jonsen could fall to at least No. 3.
If that happens, how long would Jonsen stick around?
Bennett, after getting beaten out by Mariota in 2012, seriously contemplated transferring at the end of fall camp before Chip Kelly talked him out of it.
Bennett ultimately transferred following the 2012 season to Southeastern Louisiana where he played well enough to earn a training camp invite with the Indianapolis Colts. Bennett now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Bottom line is that a program can only start one quarterback and when three are within a year of one another someone usually leaves.
If Herbert is No. 2, expect Jonsen to possibly move on. The former No. 3-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation coming out of high school is too talented to potentially spend the next four seasons as a backup.
Wilson, on the other hand, could redshirt this season and then be a year behind Herbert, who as the No. 2 this season could be in line to be the starter next season, unless of course he is beaten out by Wilson.
Of course, Jonsen could stay, get better and beat out Herbert and Wilson next spring, or even later this fall.
Finally, Jonsen could be named the No. 2 quarterback this season, Herbert and Wilson could redshirt and then we would all witness a slugfest of a quarterback competition next year.