More than halfway through the spring football season, ISU offensive coordinator Mark Mangino has finally started to narrow down the quarterback race. After starting out with four players vying for the starting spot, Iowa State is down to three possible starters.
However, Mangino still hasn't seen a clear front-runner from the group.
“The longer we rep three guys, it means that one or two of them are not getting enough repetitions to manage and run the offense,” Mangino said. “We’re being very fair to them, splitting the repetitions three ways. We need to get to where we’re focused on two guys instead of three. When that’ll happen, I don’t know.”
Grant Rohach and Sam Richardson, who shared snaps last season, are two of the three Cyclones competing for the quarterback position. They both bring experience to the job, something that makes the decision much harder for Mangino.
“They all have positives. That’s why we're in this situation,” Mangino said. "What we have to do is build on the positives and eliminate the mistakes. The guy that shows consistency will be our quarterback.”
Joel Lanning is the third quarterback still competing for the starting job. A redshirt freshman from Ankeny, Iowa, he was a three-star recruit coming out of high school, and won the Des Moines Register Player of the Year award.
As Lanning redshirted his initial season with the Cyclones, his experience level isn't on par with Richardson and Rohach, but coach Paul Rhoads said Lanning is still in the conversation to be a starter.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Hodge, the fourth quarterback who was competing for the starting job, did not participate in Saturday's scrimmage because of an "internal issue" and will likely not be on the depth chart moving forward.
“It’s a three-way race with those guys,” Rhoads said. “Whether he’s pushing them, this film [of the scrimmage] will be a better indicator of that. This was our first true scrimmage, that the whole practice was dedicated to that. But he’s certainly in the running.”
Normally, Lanning’s lack of experience would almost automatically set him back. But with the entire team learning a new offensivec system, it gives Lanning much more of an even playing field.
“Everybody is starting from day one with the new offense," Rhoads said. "That probably gives him an opportunity to bring his physical skills to the table, and then see how fast he can learn the mental part of it.”
Lanning, along with Rohach and Richardson, will each get snaps at next Saturday’s annual Cyclone Gridiron Club spring game. Using last weekend's scrimmage, along with the spring game, the coaches hope to get a better idea of which player will be the starter.
And while Mangino still says he has no timeframe as to when he will make his decision, he knows the sooner he makes it, the better off his offense will be.
“I’m not going to force anything. I’m not going to make something happen that’s not there,” Mangino said. “Certainly sooner is better, but we have to make sure we have the right pecking order on the depth chart. You have to have that number one guy to get the bulk of the reps.”