It’s common for teams to enter spring practice with quarterback battles on their hands, and in those situations it’s common for the head coach in question to let them play out as long as possible. The reason, obviously, is to allow two (or more) quarterbacks to drive through the spring, the summer and as much as fall camp as possible to treat themselves as the starter, making the whole group better in the process. Oftentimes, though, a head coach will name a starter at some point toward the tail end of spring drills, in an effort to give the entire team one voice to follow as players conduct their own workouts over the summer.
What isn’t common, however, is to see a head coach name his starter before spring practice even begins. But that’s what Paul Chryst did on Monday.
The Wisconsin head coach revealed Monday, the first day of spring practice in Madison, Alex Hornibrook will be the Badgers’ starter in 2017.
“He is the guy,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst told Wisconsin’s official website. “He knows it and he thinks it.”
To be clear, Hornibrook was the clear-cut favorite after last season. Splitting time with the now-graduated Bart Houston, Hornibrook appeared in 13 games, hitting 106-of-181 passes (58.6 percent) for 1,262 yards with nine touchdowns against seven interceptions, helping Wisconsin win the Big Ten West and defeat Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. Hornibrook took a back seat to Houston down the stretch, however, tossing only 19 passes over Wisconsin’s final four games.
Chryst also indicated to the team site that former tight end David Edwards, who transitioned to right tackle and started the team’s final seven games there, is the projected starter at left tackle, and tight end Troy Fumagalli is expected to be a featured member of the Badgers’ offense this season. He led the club with 47 grabs for 580 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.