WVU Quarterback Outlook: Doege, Kendall Duel To Draw A Lot Of Attention This Spring
West Virginia’s quarterback battle this spring figures to give a glimpse at the past, present and future of Mountaineer football.
Austin Kendall and Jarret Doege are expected to duel for the starting role, while youngsters behind them jockey for depth chart positioning.
True freshman Garrett Greene, who enrolled at WVU in January, will try to pick up Neal Brown’s offense this spring so the Mountaineer coaches are comfortable with him in the third-string role. West Virginia also features a pair of intriguing walk-ons in Trent Jackson and Matt Cavallaro who will compete with Greene.
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Returning – Jarret Doege (Jr.), Trent Jackson (Soph.), Austin Kendall (Sr.)
Departed – Jack Allison (Jr.), Trey Lowe (Soph.)
Recently enrolled newcomers – Matt Cavallaro (Soph.), Garrett Greene (Fr.)
Expected to enroll this summer – none
Austin Kendall spent much of the 2019 season as West Virginia’s starting quarterback, but then he was supplanted by Jarret Doege in the last three games. That fight for the starting job will again heat up this spring. How that battle progresses will almost certainly be the biggest story line of the 15 practice periods in March and April.
Kendall (6-2, 221 lbs., Sr.) started WVU’s first nine games of the season after transferring from Oklahoma to West Virginia in January of 2019. The Waxhaw, North Carolina, native completed 187-of-304 passes (61.5 percent) during that time for 1,989 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Kendall certainly wasn’t the Mountaineers’ biggest offensive problem in 2019 – far from it – but the quarterback is usually saddled with a disproportionate percentage of the blame when things go wrong. So it was for Kendall, who was behind center as WVU fell into a five-game losing streak in the middle of the year.
At that point West Virginia head coach Neal Brown decided to give another transfer – Doege (6-2, 198 lbs., Jr.), who came to West Virginia from Bowling Green, where he had been a two-year starter – a chance with the first team. With just four games remaining in the Mountaineers’ regular season, and thus keeping Doege within the limit in which he could still redshirt, the Lubbock, Texas, native got an opportunity.
He came on in relief in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech (11-of-17 passing for 119 yards with one touchdown), and then got the start in the win at Kansas State (20-of-30 for 234 yards with three TD) as well as a tough-luck loss to Oklahoma State (28-of-38 for 307 yards with one touchdown). He wasn’t at his statistical best in the season finale at TCU (20-of-35 for 158 yards with three interceptions and two TDs), but was still good enough to bring West Virginia a win, as Doege’s late-game, 35-yard TD connection with Isaiah Esdale lifted the Mountaineers to a 20-17 victory. Doege finished the year having completed 79-of-120 passes (65.8 percent) for 818 yards with seven TDs and three interceptions. Most importantly, for a team that was 3-6 when he took over as the Mountaineer starter, he led it to two wins in the final three games.
Trey Lowe (6-2, 218 lbs., Soph.) could have stayed at WVU and likely been ticketed for the No. 3 QB spot, like he was most of last year. He did see limited action at quarterback in 2019, completing both his passes, though for just two yards. He also ran the ball three times for a net of 12 yards. The Collierville, Tennessee, native, who is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree from WVU in two and a half years, decided his opportunity to play quarterback at West Virginia was limited, so he’s seeking a transfer.
Another quarterback, Jack Allison, who spent all of 2018 and most of 2019 as West Virginia’s top backup, decided in the middle of last season to also transfer, hoping to find a spot where he can see more action in his final season of college eligibility. He announced last month that he’ll play his senior year at West Liberty (W.Va.) State University.
With Lowe and Allison leaving, Greene is the only scholarship quarterback on the roster after Doege and Kendall. Greene (6-0, 180 lbs., Fr.) graduated Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, Florida, a semester early so he could get a jumpstart on his college career. The dual-threat QB committed to WVU shortly after Neal Brown got the West Virginia head coaching job in January of 2019. Greene passed for 1,155 yards and seven TDs and rushed for 930 yards and 15 more touchdowns as a high school senior. A standout baseball player as well, whose father played in the Major Leagues for four seasons, Garrett seemingly has many of the intangibles that make a quality quarterback, though a redshirt season would probably be a benefit. Whether WVU has the luxury of redshirting him, though, is still up in the air.
The Mountaineers do have two walk-ons who appear to have more talent than the typical non-scholarship player.
Trent Jackson (6-2, 211 lbs., Soph.) has not seen any game action yet in his first two seasons at WVU but the Stevensville, Maryland, native has impressed in practice and will be trying to work his way up the depth chart this spring.
Matt Cavallaro (6-1, 195 lbs., Soph.), who enrolled at WVU this past January, is another intriguing newcomer to West Virginia’s quarterback position. A multi-sport athlete at Delaware Valley (Pa.) High School, which is in northeast Pennsylvania near the New York and New Jersey borders, Cavallaro 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 where he’ll have four years to use his three remaining seasons of college eligibility.
Provided Doege and Kendall remain with the Mountaineers throughout the 2020 season, they will certainly be the Mountaineers’ No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks, or No. 2 and No. 1, however the battle for the starting job works out. But if one of them leaves to look for playing time elsewhere, then WVU may not have the luxury to redshirt Greene, as he’ll then be in the mix with Jackson and Cavallaro to be the top backup.