Memphis Football Preview: Quarterbacks

This is the first installment in a series of positional previews that will be posted here at The BarnBurner in the week leading up to the 2018 Memphis Tigers Football season opener against Mercer on September 1st. 

White Named Starting QB, Moore Transfers

After going through Spring Practice and preseason camp vying for the starting quarterback position, Tiger fans were finally given the answer they had been yearning for when David Moore announced he was transferring from the University, as first reported by Devin Walker of Grind City Media. This left his counterpart Brady White, a 6’3 205 pound graduate transfer from Arizona State who was originally recruited by Mike Norvell when he was the Offensive Coordinator at ASU, to be named the starting quarterback of the 2018 Memphis Tigers.

To be clear, the beat writers who follow the team on a daily basis have pretty overwhelmingly seemed to think White was ahead in the race for the job, which could have led to Moore looking to find a place where he would be able to get on the field immediately in meaningful minutes. Moore’s decision leaves Memphis with two freshmen quarterbacks, redshirt Connor Adair and true freshman Brady McBride now vying for the backup position. This is not ideal compared to the alternative scenario if Moore had stayed. Experience is not something this QB group boasts, as White is the only one to have played a down of college football (appeared in 2 games for ASU in 2016). On the flipside, White would have been the highest rated QB recruit in history to sign with the Tigers if he had committed to Memphis out of high school, and should seemingly be more than capable of running Norvell and Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham‘s offense after being in a college setting for 3 years now, with one of those coming under Norvell’s guidance.

MORE: Memphis Football Preview: Offensive and Defensive Lines

Brady White Out of High School

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 11.09.04 PM

Upon graduating from Hart High School in Newhall, California, White was an unanimous 4-star recruit and ranked as the 4th best Pro-Style Quarterback by 24/7 Sports. White had committed to Mike Norvell and the Arizona State Sun Devils (highest rated QB commit in school history) after passing for 10,835 yards and 101 Touchdowns and adding another 19 scores on the ground over the course of his 3 year high school career.

If you watch the highlight video above, it is easy to get excited about White and see why analysts were so high on him in 2015. White shows off accuracy on short and intermediate passes, and it’s pretty clear that he’s not afraid to let it fly and give his receivers a chance to make plays on the deep balls. While White is no David Moore when it comes to what he can do with his legs, he does appear to show an intuition to avoid the initial rush and appeared comfortable when scrambling in high school. He’s no speedster, but he doesn’t appear to be a stiff either.

White’s senior year saw him throw for 45 touchdowns and 3,725 yards en route to a 7-4 season that saw his Hart team fall in the first round of the California High School Playoffs (CIF). In his junior year, White racked up 4,535 yards through the air to go along with 41 TD’s. Hart’s 2014 season led them to the second round of the CIF before falling to a squad led by the late Tyler Hilinski, who started last season prior to committing suicide in January.

Back to a positive note, if the Tigers had signed Brady White in 2015 out of high school, I would have been pretty damn excited about the future of Tiger Football.

MORE: The Chief’s 2018 Memphis Madness Wish List

White’s Time At ASU

Brady graduated from Hart High School a semester early, and enrolled at Arizona State in the Spring of 2015. White was learning the playbook and watching film with Norvell throughout the Spring, before redshirting in the fall for the 2015 Season while senior Mike Bercovici led the team to a 6-6 record in Norvell’s final season as the Sun Devils Offensive Coordinator.

In 2016 White finished behind Manny Wilkins in the race for the starting QB position, however his number was called in early October when Wilkins was injured late in a blowout loss to USC. White entered the game trailing 41-6, before finishing 6-13 for 80 yards and a TD pass, while leading an additional scoring drive to make the final score 41-20.

UCLA Arizona St Football
Photo Credit: AP/ Ross D. Franklin

Sitting at 4-1 and coming off their first loss of the season, White was set to start his first collegiate game at home in Tempe against UCLA. Adding to the intrigue, his QB counterpart would be his fellow 2015 classmate Josh Rosen, who was ranked ahead of White throughout their high school careers and played high school ball just 50 miles south of White’s hometown.

In the matchup, White got off to a slow start, going just 8-21 passing in the first half with one of those being an interception on a poor decision-deep ball. It looked like a player in the first start of his college career trying to get his feet wet, but to be fair, neither team was moving the ball in the first half.

White seemed to get more comfortable as the game went along, finishing 19-36 with a touchdown to go along with the first half interception. White peppered his playmaker, Tim White, with 18 targets and led the team on two second half touchdown drives. White did a great job of executing on the intermediate passes and getting the ball to guys in space to make plays, but he also connected on a big 30 yard pass down the sideline to Tim White.

After Rosen led UCLA to tie the game at 13, White led ASU on a 75-yard drive that lasted the final 3:08 of the third quarter. (Ok now actually click on the video and fast forward it to 1:48:43 to see what happens next.) To go along with the 30 yard pass, White tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to 6’4 receiver N’Keal Harry on a Post route to the back of the middle of the end zone.

MORE: Memphis Football Preview: Running Backs & Special Teams

What Can White Do For The Tigers?

I’m going to be honest, I was rooting for Moore to be the starting QB from the jump because of his arm strength and playmaking, but as the preseason has progressed and I dove more into White’s history, I have convinced my self that Brady White is exactly the type of quarterback this Memphis Tigers team needs. 

Although the offense lost former QB Riley Ferguson, RB Doroland Dorceus, and WRs Anthony Miller, Phil Mayhue, and Roderick Proctor, there is still plenty of talent and explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers.

White will be able to lean on returning running backs Patrick Taylor and Darrell Henderson, who could both amass over 1,000 rushing yards this season. White also has the benefit of having one of the most electrifying players in college football set to see an increase in offensive usage, as I expect Tony Pollard to be used all over the field, and I can see White peppering him with targets the same way he did with Tim White in that UCLA game.

Photo Credit: Justin Ford/ Commercial Appeal

Pollard figures to play a large role in the passing game to go along with his rushing duties, and he will be joined by redshirt sophomore Damonte Coxie, a 6’3 receiver who is expected to be leaned on heavily with the departure of Miller and could be the breakout player of the year on the offensive side of the ball. Pop Williams and Kedarian Jones are also talented receivers with big-play ability that have some experience and White will be able to lean on, to go along with Sam Craft, who could be a steady security blanket for the quarterback.

Toss in tight ends Joey Magnifico and Sean Dykes, who offer varying skill sets to go along with young receivers Calvin Austin III, Coye Fairman, Mechane Slade, and Hunter Hill and there is no shortage of talent and playmaking ability surrounding White.

If White can be consistent, convert on 3rd down, and protect the football then I see no reason why we shouldn’t expect him to have a successful season in his first year as a Tiger. Of course, White hasn’t played a meaningful snap in almost 2 years, and has worn a green no-contact jersey for most of his time with the Tigers, so all of this is based on the premise of White being fully recovered from the 2 surgeries and continuing health.

*If granted a waiver, White could still have 3 years of eligibility remaining going forward.

MORE: Q & A With Bluff City Mafia, Memphis USL Supporters Group

What About The Other Guys

Connor Adair is a redshirt freshman who was a 2-star recruit out of Alabama. He had a solid high school career, but I think he will probably begin as the 3rd quarterback on the depth chart. Brady McBride is a true freshman from Coppell, Texas who was rated a 3-star by 24/7 Sports, originally committed to Rice and is considered a dual-threat QB. McBride has earned high praise from his coaches and teammates, and if anything happens to White, I think Norvell will turn to the true freshman with the strong arm and playmaking ability to steer the ship.

Markevion Quinn just recently enrolled at Memphis and is also expected to be in the quarterback room. With him just cleared, you have to think he will round out the bottom of the depth chart for now until he is able to get caught up on the playbook.

Stay tuned for more Tiger Football positional previews throughout the week.

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