After Mario Cristobal rode "the hot hand" in the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, it's anyone's guess who the Oregon Ducks will start at quarterback next season.
Does that mean incoming five-star quarterback Ty Thompson could win the starting job? Cristobal said he has an honest shot during his National Signing Day press conference.
“Yes," Cristobal affirmed when asked if Thompson would compete for starting reps. "Ty is an exceptional talent. Ty is a guy who doesn’t come around very often. The excitement around him is extremely high."
The 6'4", 200-pound prospect committed to Oregon back in March just one month after getting an offer from the University following the hire of new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
As an Oregon Ducks commit, he made national headlines as the top performer at the Elite 11 QB Camp last summer and shot up recruiting rankings in the process.
"He was the alpha dog of the Elite 11," said Cristobal. "He may be the best quarterback in the country."
Thompson will compete with returning senior Anthony Brown, redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough, and true freshmen Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford to be Oregon's starter. If Thompson wins the job, he will be the first true freshman to win the starting quarterback position since Justin Herbert in 2016.
Braxton Burmeister also started games as a true freshman in relief of Herbert in 2017 who suffered a broken collarbone.
"I’m sure that will be a storyline in spring as we roll into it," added the Ducks head coach. "I look forward to watching that battle and really structuring practice so that there’s fair opportunity."
While many Oregon starters are returning for another season in 2021, the incoming true freshmen will all get honest opportunities to earn playing time. Oregon runs on a culture of competition and the best players will play.
"They’ve been recruited for a reason, because we think they can contribute right away," explained Cristobal.
"Student-athletes want to see the direction of their role sooner than later. So we make a point to recruit guys in the areas that we feel are going to see significant playing time early enough so they can see that and stay prepared when the time comes because for them we feel the time is coming sooner than later."