By now, we all know the deal. The South Carolina Gamecocks enter this season with a question mark at the most important position for the first time in a long time and it feels like the Chris Smelley vs. Tommy Beecher debate all over again. I never thought I'd miss Dylan Thompson this much.
The talk tossed around this offseason indicates Connor Mitch will start the season opener September 3rd, but it won't be because he proved his ability in mop up duty against Furman or South Alabama, or because he wowed coaches and fans during spring ball. The decision will be based solely on a process of elimination; a process Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus will commence today in the first practice of the fall, and end a day or two before the team travels to Charlotte after roughly 29 days of competition.
So, while I wait for the updates from practice to sort through Spurrier's quotes letter by letter decoding the cryptic message of which QB he believes has the moxy and prowess to manage the offense, I'll put aside his career 19 passing yards and turn to high school statistics to help make the case for Connor Mitch.
Mitch comes from a family of former college athletes. His dad and older brother both played college football, while his sister is a former Duke basketball player, but its safe to say Connor may have the most promise of them all. As a high school quarterback for Wakefield out of Raleigh, NC, Mitch started all four years as the varsity quarterback, and thrived along the way.
At Wakefield, he broke all kinds of school passing records and finished second in state history in four categories. Throughout his career he threw for just over 12,000 yards on 807 completions with 153 touchdowns. His senior season saw 63 touchdown passes, with nine coming in just one game. He has a career 58% completion rating, which isn't great, but isn't bad either. His recruiting rankings varied from three to four star prospect, depending on which site you like best, and whichever way you slice it, he was a top 20 pro style quarterback for his 2013 class and has the ability to develop into a proficient passer. Hand that to a legend when it comes to developing QB's and my optimism starts to grow.
While no amount of high school statistics lead to a direct translation of college success, Mitch proved he has the ability to guide a successful team for four years.
In his first year taking the snaps for the Gamecocks, he'll have the luxury of talented guys like Pharoh Cooper, Brandon Wilds and David Williams around him to lead the production. All Mitch will be asked to do is make sure it gets in their hands.
So, maybe a bigger question remains if there's enough talent and experience to guide and protect the inexperience of Mitch. Thankfully, we have a month left for those questions to be answered.