Ranking the Big East backup quarterbacks

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
When the assignment came down to rank the backup quarterbacks in each league, I had an obvious concern. We're not even entirely sure who the starting quarterback will be for five Big East teams come Labor Day weekend.

In order to do this, I'm going to assume the players currently leading the competition for each team will in fact be the starter, and the rankings will reflect the other quarterbacks in the mix. As Cincinnati showed last year, having capable backups can come in quite handy.

1. Cincinnati: Chazz Anderson won two games as a starter last year, and Zach Collaros looked terrific in the spring game. Brian Kelly knows he can call on either one if Tony Pike goes down.

2. Pittsburgh: Surprised? Don't be. Pat Bostick was maybe the most improved offensive player the Panthers had this spring, and he's won at West Virginia and at Notre Dame his last two starts. Tino Sunseri is coming on as well. There would be little dropoff if one of these two had to replace Bill Stull. The problem is that none of the three have separated themselves as a big-time starting quarterback.

3. South Florida: It's not fair that the teams with the most settled starting quarterbacks also have two of the top three backup situations. But the way B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi played this spring gave Jim Leavitt confidence in the unlikely event that Matt Grothe actually misses some time.

4. Rutgers: Assuming Dom Natale holds onto the starting job, the Scarlet Knights would have a senior (Jabu Lovelace), a stud true freshman (Tom Savage) and a talented if raw redshirt freshman (D.C. Jefferson) behind him.

5. West Virginia: Coley White made strides this spring, and hotshot recruit Eugene Smith arrives this summer. But the Mountaineers are ranked this low for now because neither has ever played a down in college.

6. Connecticut: Zach Frazer holds a slim lead over Cody Endres at the moment, but there's not a lot of difference between the two players.

7. Syracuse: The Orange currently have last year's starter, Cam Dantley, backing up Ryan Nassib. And then there's the enigma that is Greg Paulus.

8. Louisville: There's not really a clear-cut starter yet between Justin Burke and Adam Froman. Zack Stoudt would be the No. 3. None of them has been terribly impressive thus far.