West Virginia’s battle for its starting quarterback job is going to again come down to two players – junior Jarret Doege, who ended the 2019 season as the Mountaineers’ top QB, and senior Austin Kendall, who started the first nine games of the year.
Jack Allison and Trey Lowe, who served as backups last season, have each transferred, so WVU not only must determine who will start at quarterback, it must also develop depth at that position.
Here is how we view West Virginia’s quarterback situation this coming season.
Anticipated starter – Jarret Doege (Jr.)
A transfer at Bowling Green as a true freshman and sophomore in 2017 and ’18, Jarret Doege transferred to West Virginia in the summer of 2019. The NCAA granted his waiver for immediate eligibility, but WVU coach Neal Brown held Doege back for much of the season to preserve his redshirt. The Lubbock, Texas, native was finally turned loose in the last four games, and completed 79-of-120 for 818 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions in that time. He started the final three games of the year, lifting Mountaineers to upset road wins at Kansas State (24-20) and TCU (20-17) sandwiched around a hard-fought loss to Oklahoma State (20-13) in that stretch.
Because he didn’t play in more than four games last year, Doege retains his junior status, though he has added 10 pounds to his frame and now checks in at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds.
The younger brother of Seth Doege, who played for Brown at Texas Tech, Jarret seemingly has the upper hand in the fight for the starting quarterback job based on the way he finished last season, completing 65.8 percent of his passes. Holding on to the No. 1 spot isn’t a sure thing, though. He’s going to have to continue to perform to retain the starting role.
Likely top backup – Austin Kendall (Sr.)
Like Doege, Austin Kendall also arrived at WVU in 2019 as a transfer, though in January rather than June. Thus the former Oklahoma Sooner was able to go through last year’s spring practice, and that additional experience in West Virginia’s offense helped him win the starting QB job to open the ’19 season.
The Waxhaw, North Carolina, native completed 187-of-304 passes (61.5 percent) for 1,989 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during WVU’s first eight and a half games last season. When Doege took over behind center at halftime of game nine against Texas Tech, though, Kendall didn’t see any further action the rest of the year.
Kendall was WVU’s starter during its five-game midseason losing skid, but he wasn’t necessarily the Mountaineers’ biggest offensive problem. The starting quarterback usually gets a disproportionately large percentage of the blame when things don’t go well, though, and thus it was for Kendall.
Doege’s performance at the end of 2019 figures to earn him the first chance at the starting job heading into the 2020 season, but Kendall is right on his heals. It’s unlikely Austin would have returned to WVU for his final season of collegiate eligibility unless he believed he had a fair shot at winning the starting QB spot in ‘20. At the very least Kendall, who has lost a seven pound from last year and now checks in at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, gives the Mountaineers a veteran backup, though the starting job is not outside the realm of possibility either.
Other key returnees – Trent Jackson (Soph.)
Heading into his third season in the Mountaineer football program, Trent Jackson (6-3, 211 lbs., Soph.) may be a walk-on, but he’s been at WVU longer than any of West Virginia’s other current quarterbacks.
Though the Stevensville, Maryland, native has yet to see any game action, he’s got solid skills and at the very least gives the Mountaineers a quarterback capable of handling the third-string duties in mop-up time.
What Jackson will try to prove to Brown and company this year is that he is capable of doing even more – if the two quarterbacks in front of him go down, Jackson is capable of playing critical minutes, not just mop-up ones.
Newcomers who could see game action this season – Matt Cavallaro (Soph.), Garrett Greene (Fr.)
A true freshman who arrived at WVU in January, Garrett Greene (5-11, 191 lbs.) didn’t get to take full advantage of his early enrollment because of the cancellation of most of spring practice because of COVID-19.
A duel-threat QB from Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, Florida, Greene passed for 1,155 yards and seven TDs and rushed for 930 yards and 15 more touchdowns as a high school senior. He would seem a likely redshirt this season, but because West Virginia has only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, the youngest of that trio could potentially get pushed into game action if either of the older two is lost for any extended period of time.
The Mountaineers do have another intriguing option at quarterback in walk-on Matt Cavallaro. A multi-sport athlete at Delaware Valley (Pa.) High School, Cavallaro (6-0, 196 lbs., Soph.) pursued a hockey career after graduating from high school. He spent a year and a half playing junior hockey for the South Shore Kings in Foxborough, Massachusetts. In January of 2019, Cavallaro got the itch to try football again and enrolled at Lackawanna (Pa.) College. He won the starting quarterback job that spring and went on to lead the Falcons to a 10-1 record this past fall. Their only loss was a 24-13 decision to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in the NJCAA national championship game. Cavallaro threw for 1,754 yards on the season, completing 116-of-227 passes with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Though he could have returned to Lackawanna for the 2020 campaign, Cavallaro decided to accept a walk-on opportunity at West Virginia and enrolled at WVU this past January. He’ll have four years to use his three remaining seasons of college eligibility.
Previously In The Series