The news that Tyler Gabbert has decided to transfer to Louisville does not come as a huge shock. The Cardinals appeared to be the front-runner from the beginning, when Gabbert decided he wanted a fresh start away from Missouri.
Louisville now has talent and depth at quarterback for 2012, so that should ease some concerns about a position that is a question mark in 2011. But it is going to be interesting to see how this situation plays out once Gabbert is eligible to play next season.
True freshman Teddy Bridgewater and junior Will Stein go into fall camp competing for the starting job. But expectations are high for Bridgewater to eventually become the full-time starter. The four-star player out of Miami was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the class of 2011 and a huge recruiting coup for the Cardinals.
Bridgewater had been a Miami commitment for six months before decommitting last December and deciding on Louisville because of the opportunity to play early in his career. The Cardinals were losing two senior quarterbacks, creating big-time room for him.
He enrolled early in school and participated in spring practice, where he had his share of ups and downs. But offensive coordinator Mike Sanford says Bridgewater has transformed himself in the few short months he has been on campus. Indeed, in an interview earlier this week with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bridgewater said, "If I would have got here like a regular freshman, I would probably be lost right now. There's no way that you can prepare yourself for this level if you're not already here."
Though Sanford has said that both Bridgewater and Stein would play early on this season, neither he nor coach Charlie Strong have said how much they would use their young player. There is no question Bridgewater has talent, but it is always incredibly hard to evaluate true freshmen quarterbacks until they are put in a game situation.
So what happens when Gabbert is eligible? What if Bridgewater takes the helm and is as good as advertised right off the bat? What if Stein impresses as a starter? Is there a quarterback competition next spring no matter what happens in 2011? There are so many unknowns right now, that all we can do is guess. Adding more talent and depth to the quarterback spot is never bad. But Strong certainly is going to have to figure out the best way to handle this situation.
Neither Bridgewater nor Gabbert came to Louisville to be a backup.