Taylor Martinez (6-1, 210), with his school-record 39 starts, will again look to challenge Ohio State's Braxton Miller for All-Conference honors this season. Martinez remains one of the fastest players in college football and perhaps the nations most dangerous quarterback running the ball. If his continued time spent with QB guru Steve Calhoun has the kind of impact on his senior season as it did his junior campaign, Martinez could make a Heisman run as well. Calhoun has worked to refine Martinez's mechanics over the past two offseasons. As a freshman and sophomore, Martinez had an awkward throwing motion and release point. Martinez would bend his right leg, which would result in him tilting his left shoulder upward. In doing so, Martinez would also dip his throwing elbow below his shoulder and thus his infamous "Uncle Rico" styled release. Calhoun has helped Martinez keep his right leg straight and his shoulders parallel for better balance and a more fluid throwing motion. Calhoun also has drilled Martinez to keep his throwing elbow above his shoulder. The result as a junior was increased accuracy and improving his completion percentage by 6-points to a career-high 62%. Along with continued improvements with his mechanics, Martinez must continue to make better decisions with the football and decrease his turnovers - especially his problems fumbling the football. Heading into the Capital One Bowl against Georgia, Martinez had 47 fumbles in 38 career games.
Backing up Martinez will be redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong. A four-star recruit according to Scout.com, Armstrong (6-1, 220) has drawn praise from teammates and coaches for his natural leadership abilities. Armstrong, who Tim Beck has said seems to have the 'It' factor, did a good job of picking up the offense during his redshirt year. Armstrong's ability to both pass and run effectively makes him a great fit for what Beck wants to do on offense. With an eye towards 2014, it would be a good idea for the coaches to get Armstrong some reps during the season. Martinez has taken nearly every snap at quarterback over the past two years.
The competition to replace Martinez as the starter will be fierce in 2014, when Armstrong faces off with incoming freshman Johnny Stanton. Stanton (6-2, 220), a consensus four-star recruit and member of the prestigious Elite 11, will likely redshirt as a freshman. Like Armstrong, Stanton has been lauded for his leadership as a high school athlete, earning the nickname "Johnny Tebow." Stanton's pass-first, dual-threat skillset are a perfect marriage with Tim Beck's offensive philosophy. ESPN's Trent Dilfer gushed about Stanton during the five-day Elite 11 finals.
If everything holds on the recruiting front, a third highly-regarded quarterback will be apart of the competition next fall. Nebraska currently has a commitment from Apopka, Florida dual-threat quarterback Zack Darlington. Darlington is rated a four-star recruit by ESPN Scouts Inc., and has a similar pedigree as both Armstrong and Stanton. Like Armstrong (Texas) and Stanton (California), Darlington is a State Champion in a ultra-talented and competitive recruiting state. Darlington is regarded as a confident and competitive leader on the field and has the same dual-threat qualities as his future Husker teammates. Darlington is a coaches son whose high school offense has similar elements as the one he will be asked to learn and run at Nebraska. Darlington was identified early by Tim Beck and was regarded as Nebraska's top QB target for the 2014 class. Darlington ultimately chose Nebraska over Ohio State, who also considered him one of their top QB targets.
Possible 2013 Depth Chart:
1. Taylor Martinez (Sr.)
2. Tommy Armstrong (RFr.)
3. Ron Kellogg III (Sr.)
Prior to contributing to HuskerMax, Jeremy Pernell co-founded the all football website N2FL.com. He served as the editor in chief of the college football portion of the website which focused heavily on recruitment and talent analysis, including the NFL Draft. You can email him at N2FL@hotmail.com.