Share this article

print logo

East team quarterbacks have plenty to prove at Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – One of them owns or shares 37 program records at his university.

Another one is the only three-time captain in the storied history of Ohio State football.

The last one put up 7,955 yards in just two seasons, along with 70 touchdown passes.

So, yes, the quarterbacks for the East team as part of the Shrine Game this week have some impressive credentials.

South Florida's Quinton Flowers, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett and Memphis' Riley Ferguson also have something else in common – they're not being talked about much. Much of the hype surrounding the 2018 quarterback class has centered on potential first-round picks like Southern Cal's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

Following their first practice of the week leading up to Saturday's 93rd playing of college football's oldest all-star game, Barrett said he's anxious to see how he compares to those so-called "elite" prospects.

"A lot of great dudes are coming out this year," he said. "It's going to be great to see how we all stack up when that time comes. Right now, I'm just focusing on getting better. I think that's what me, Riley and Quinton are doing right now."

Shrine Game Notebook: Early entrant deadline arrives, coaches named

Competition is nothing new to Barrett, who started for the Buckeyes as a freshman after Braxton Miller got hurt. Barrett led Ohio State to a spot in the Big Ten Championship game before his own injury knocked him out of the starting lineup, opening the door for Cardale Jones to lead the Buckeyes to a national championship. Barrett eventually replaced Jones as the Buckeyes' starter the following year, and went on to hold more than two dozen Ohio State and Big Ten Conference records as a quarterback.

"I love to compete," he said Monday after practice at Shorecrest Preparatory School. "I feel like that's part of who I am. We're going after each other's spot, trying to put ourselves in the best position possible."

Barrett has the leadership skills and toughness NFL teams want in a quarterback. This year, he injured his knee warming up for the annual rivalry game against Michigan, had surgery on the knee the following day and led the team to a Big Ten Championship the following weekend.

"Whatever it takes to help the team win," he said.

Winning is something that Flowers did a lot of his last two years at the University of South Florida. The Bulls went a combined 21-4 over Flowers' final two seasons, as he set program records for career touchdown passes (71) and rushing yards (3,672) among a multitude of others, becoming just the fourth player in FBS history to eclipse 8,000 passing yards and 3,500 rushing yards.

"It's a great feeling being out here, knowing that you're closer to your dream," Flowers said Monday.

While he's working out with the quarterbacks this week, he indicated he's not against a possible position switch. Some draft analysts project him as a running back at the next level.

"I would say I'm flexible. I'll do whatever it takes for the team to win," he said. "If the coach tells me to play (a different) position, I'm a team player."

Ferguson might have the highest NFL ceiling of any of the quarterbacks on the East team. At 6-foot-4, he's got the height NFL teams like to go along with video-game numbers. After replacing Paxton Lynch, who was a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2015, Ferguson threw for 32 touchdown passes in 2016 to set a single-season record. He followed that up by completing 63 percent of his passes for 4,257 yards with 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2017. He connected on 23-of-38 passes for 398 yards with six touchdowns and an interception to lead Memphis to a high-scoring, 48-45 win over Rosen's UCLA squad in the third week of the season – a performance that surely caught the attention of scouts.

The Buffalo Bills, who are likely to be in the quarterback market in some fashion this offseason, have been one of the teams keeping a close eye on Ferguson. They scouted him at the Liberty Bowl, and are in attendance this week.

Story topics:

There are no comments - be the first to comment