The Virginia Cavaliers football team kicked off the 2016 season with their fall camp beginning August 5 under new head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Although it is a new era for the ‘Hoos, they are faced with a similar reoccurring issue: choosing a quarterback. This year, however, there are not just two but three candidates competing for the starring spot.
Matt Johns is returning for his final season as a Cavalier. In the 2015 season, Johns started all 12 games for the ‘Hoos after losing the starting position to Greyson Lambert in 2014.
He did not disappoint.
Despite the poor finish for the team, Johns finished the season third in the ACC with 2,810 passing yards, which also ranked third in school history for most passing yards in a single season. He also finished the season ranked second in the ACC with 20 touchdown passes.
Coach Mendenhall has given senior Connor Brewer a chance for the starting position as well. Mendenhall said during ACC Media Day that Brewer impressed him during spring practices.
Brewer was the back up to Johns last season. He previously attended Arizona, then Texas, and has now decided to conclude his college career at UVA.
He appeared in two of 12 games in 2015. During the Boise State game, he was 4 of 8 for 34 yards.
Brewer, like Johns, has one season of eligibility left and looks to earn the starting spot for his senior season.
Johns and Brewer are not the lone competitors, however, as Kurt Benkert, a transfer from East Carolina University, has gotten the coaches attention.
Benkert, unlike Johns and Brewer, has two years of eligibility left, which Coach Mendenhall admitted to be working in his favor.
At the ACC Football Kickoff, Mendenhall said about Benkert, “We’re very intrigued by what we’ve seen from him with the upside that he has two years of eligibility. There is a nice bridge there that could be formed with the possibility of more experience.”
Benkert played in three games during the 2014 season at ECU. He finished the season with 8 of 10 passes for 58 yards. He rushed five times for 23 yards and two touchdowns.
He suffered a knee injury during camp of 2015, which kept him out for the season.
Benkert on paper is Mendenhall’s type of quarterback since rushing is not Johns’ or Brewer’s strong suit. Mendenhall had Taysom Hill at BYU, who alone rushed for over 2,000 yards over three seasons at BYU.
Brewer’s passing accuracy in the spring impressed Mendenhall,and the coaches admire Johns’ leadership on and off the field.
The quarterback competition is going to be another close one, and the starter will be revealed on September 3rd when the ‘Hoos take on their season opener against Richmond in Scott Stadium.