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10 QB competitions to watch in the FCS

By CRAIG HALEY

Stats Perform FCS Senior Editor

(Stats Perform) - If and when preseason camps open across FCS college football in the next month, the most-watched position battles will be behind center.

Quarterback, of course, is considered the most important position in the sport, and a number of high-profile FCS programs have key battles ahead.

Following are 10 competitions to watch in the FCS:

Chattanooga (Southern Conference)

The Mocs are replacing quarterback Nick Tiano, the MVP of the 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Senior Drayton Arnold, last year's backup after he transferred in from Old Dominion, is favored to win the starting job, but Cole Copeland, the 2017 starter as a true freshman, has returned to the team and is a factor.

James Madison (CAA Football)

Cole Johnson and Gage Maloney have logged a lot of time in the JMU program and one of them will take over for Dallas Cowboys rookie Ben DiNucci, the 2019 CAA Football offensive player of the year. Johnson has been the primary backup the last three years, but Moloney has always been in the picture.

Montana (Big Sky)

The Grizzlies return senior Cam Humphrey and added transfers Robbie Patterson and Kirk Rygol. Humphrey made three starts for an injured Dalton Sneed last year and earned a Big Sky offensive player of the week award. He previously played at Saddleback Community College, where Patterson was a standout in 2018, but sat out last season with an injury. The well-traveled Rygol has been enrolled at North Greenville, ASA-Brooklyn and South Florida.

Montana State (Big Sky)

What makes this situation fascinating is the Bobcats return their starting QB, Tucker Rovig, from the program's first FCS semifinalist in 35 years yet coach Jeff Choate signed North Carolina State transfer quarterback Matt McKay. The 6-foot-4 redshirt junior passed for 910 yards and three touchdowns in six games last season, including 308 yards against East Carolina.

North Carolina A&T (MEAC)

The preeminent HBCU program with four Celebration Bowl wins in four of the last five seasons, the Aggies are replacing Kylil Carter with a redshirt junior. It will be either Jalen Fowler, who impressed as the backup last season, or East Carolina transfer Kingsley Ifedi, who played against the Aggies in the two schools' 2018 matchup.

Northern Arizona (Big Sky)

The Lumberjacks will be hard-pressed to continue the production of Case Cookus, who passed for 12,076 yards and 105 touchdowns in his career. Topping the list of candidates are sophomore Heath Beemiller, a safety in his redshirt season in 2018 before moving back under center last season, and second-year Oklahoma State transfer Keondre Wudtee. Youngsters Jeff Widener and Niko Haen also are in the derby..

San Diego (Pioneer League)

Reid Sinnett waited patiently behind former Torero Anthony Lawrence before playing to a first-team all-league level in his only season as their starting quarterback last year. Redshirt senior Mason Randall, the backup, and redshirt junior Bryce Fledderman hope their time in the program will lead to similar results.

South Dakota State (Missouri Valley)

The Jackrabbits have not one, but two signal callers who started at least five games as a freshman last season. Season-opening QB J'Bore Gibbs hopes to make his way back from a torn ACL last midseason, while Keaton Heide has big moments as well. Senior Kanin Nelson is the third choice, but he started two non-conference wins last season.

Towson (CAA Football)

Ryan Stover, who preceded Tom Flacco as the Tigers' starting quarterback in 2017, hopes to get the job back as a redshirt senior. However, Jake Constantine has come aboard as a grad transfer after he started the last two seasons at Big Sky champ Weber State.

Wofford (Southern Conference)

The Terriers have lost Joe Newman, the SoCon offensive player of the year. It's likely redshirt sophomore Jimmy Weirick and redshirt junior Peyton Derrick will both play. Weirick is the better runner and may be the starter, but Weirick is the better passer and could come off the bench as third-year coach Josh Conklin's option offense puts more emphasis on the pass.

Updated July 7, 2020

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