Tom Brandstater, Sean Norton and Ryan Colburn are locked into the biggest quarterback battle in over 10 years at Fresno State. Each brings something different to the table, but only two have a glaring weakness that hinders their chances at becoming the next Bulldog quarterback.
Colburn is just true freshman but has been compared to David Carr for his size and presence in the pocket. He sat out last year as a grayshirt, and only has month of bowl practice and a few weeks of spring practice under his belt. Pat Hill likes to develop his quarterbacks by grayshirting and redshirting his prospects. Even Paul Pinegar was a third-year player when he made his first start in 2002. Carr played as a true freshman in a limited role in 1997, but that was out of necessity. The odds are against Colburn despite his countless comparisons to Carr. Unless he has a great Spring Game, and Brandstater and Norton do not, he will likely redshirt.
Norton is a Parade all-American who has all the tools but one, size. Could this unbelievable player actually be sidelined because he is only 5-11? Yes! If Brandstater and Norton are neck and neck, with no real clear cut No. 1 guy, who would you choose? The one that is 5-11 or the one that was 6-5? There are few in the college ranks that can throw a ball on the line like Norton can. He is mobile and fast enough to beat a linebacker to the corner, but will it be enough to win the starting job?
Brandstater has everything, per se. He is the most experienced, not by much, but is the only one of the three to have actually thrown a Division IA pass. He has the strongest arm and throws a beautiful deep ball. He has the impressive size that coaches and the pros covet. He has been considered by fans to have been ready since 2004, but not by Hill. What has been most impressive about Brandstater is his heart and determination. He has come to play this spring and is not just sitting and expecting to be the starter.
By just looking at a roster, one would cross off Norton for his size, Colburn for his inexperience, and anoint Brandstater as the heir apparent to Pinegar. That is what CFN is doing. They rank Fresno State's quarterback battle No. 17 in their top 30 quarterback battle for 2006. I know I have stated that it is Brandstater's job to lose on more than one occasion, but I have seen almost all of the spring practices. I have yet to see Pete Fiutak, Matt Zemek or any other lemming from CFN at Bulldog practice.