By Steve Megargee
Ap Sports Writer
This could turn into a big year for redshirt freshman quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference.
It all depends on how a few preseason competitions turn out. Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M all have redshirt freshman quarterbacks bidding for starting spots. None of the three schools has named a starter.
Texas A&M’s Nick Starkel has emerged as the likely front-runner in a race that also includes Oklahoma State transfer Jake Hubenak and true freshman Kellen Mond.
Florida’s Feleipe Franks had a big spring game performance but is facing a major challenge from Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire and junior Luke Del Rio. Zaire just joined Florida’s team this summer.
Tennessee’s quarterback derby features redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano and junior Quinten Dormady.
All three redshirt freshmen are counting on the lessons they learned over the last year to pay off now that they have the chance to play.
“From the spring game to now, I’ve been able to grow as a player,” Guarantano said. “With every single mistake I’ve made, I’ve been able to learn from it. I’ve used it. I think my knowledge has grown a lot.”
Here’s a look at some other redshirt freshmen across the country who could make major impacts this season:
TYLER BIADASZ, C, Wisconsin
Biadasz has worked as Wisconsin’s first-team center throughout preseason camp. Michael Deiter, who started 10 games at center last season, has moved to left tackle as part of the shuffling that resulted from the absence of tackle Jacob Maxwell, who hasn’t returned since missing much of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury. Deiter’s move has cleared a path for Biadasz to start Wisconsin’s Sept. 1 season opener with Utah State.
JOSH JACKSON, QB, Virginia Tech
Hokies coach Justin Fuente announced Monday that Jackson will start the Sept. 3 season opener against West Virginia. Jackson won a competition that also included junior-college transfer A.J. Bush and freshman Hendon Hooker. “He’s very consistent,” Fuente said. “He’s continued to improve in terms of his ability to deliver the ball on time. He’s got a pretty good understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplished. He’s got a great demeanor, a competitive spirit in there.” Jackson is the son of Fred Jackson, a former Michigan assistant coach.
D.K METCALF, WR, Mississippi
Unlike the other players on this list, Metcalf actually has college playing experience. The 6-foot-4 receiver scored touchdowns in each of Ole Miss’ first two games and made a spectacular catch against Florida State in which he tipped the ball to himself in the end zone. But he broke his foot against Wofford and took a redshirt. Metcalf, the son of former Ole Miss and NFL offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf, returned in time to get four receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
BYRON MURPHY, CB, Washington
Th Huskies have holes to fill at cornerback after the Green Bay Packers selected Kevin King and the Philadelphia Eagles picked Sidney Jones in the second round of the draft. Their departures create an opportunity for Murphy, who has made the most of the situation with his performance in preseason camp. Murphy, who is 5-11, was named the defensive MVP of Washington’s scout team last fall. Murphy was Washington’s top 2016 signee and the No. 103 overall prospect in his class according to composite rankings of recruiting sites compiled by 247Sports .
JON-MICHAEL TERRY, LB, Oklahoma
One way or another, the Sooners figure to open the season with a Mike linebacker who will be making his college debut. Terry is competing with true freshman Kenneth Murray for the starting spot as Oklahoma switches from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense this season.
TYLER VAUGHNS, WR, Southern California
USC needs someone to help out Deontay Burnett in the receiving corps following the exits of Pittsburgh Steelers second-round draft pick JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers. Their departures should allow the 6-foot-2 Vaughns to win a starting spot this season. Vaughns was rated as the nation’s No. 3 receiver and No. 35 overall prospect in the 2016 class according to the 247Sports Composite .