The Oregon State Beavers’ quarterback position experienced its fair share of ups and downs in 2016.
Darell Garretson opened the season as the starter for the Beavers, but he broke his ankle midway through the season. His injury opened the door for Marcus McMaryion to start the last six games and then-walk-on freshman Conor Blount to see playing time.Not only that, but at one point last year, graduate assistant and former Utah State star Chuckie Keeton stepped in as the scout team signal caller.
Now, entering the 2017 season, Oregon State will be entertaining a quarterback competition. Reasonable expectations would say that Garretson, McMaryion along with JUCO transfer, Jake Luton, will be the top-3 quarterbacks to contend for the starting role.
Five quarterbacks have taken snaps as the starting signal caller for Oregon State since Sean Mannion departed for the NFL back in 2014. Will that number stay at four (Garretson or McMaryion) or go to five (Luton) this season? All three gunslingers obtain attributes that can make them the leader of this Oregon State offense.
Before Garretson sustained his ankle injury, he was doing OK for Oregon State. He threw for 617 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 50 percent of his passes.
Physical, Garretson has all the tools to be a solid quarterback for the Beavers. He stands 6-foot and weighs 210 pounds while possessing a strong arm and good speed. However, Garretson needs to work on his decision making if he wants to be the man for Oregon State in 2017.
In the six games he started for the Beavers in 2016, he completed above 50 percent of his passes just three times—62.5 percent in a seven point loss to Minnesota, 68.8 percent in a 14 point loss to Boise State and 54.2 percent in a three point overtime win over California. The other three games, his completion percentage was at or below 50 percent—50 percent in a 30 point win over Idaho State, 31.3 percent in a 41 point loss to Colorado and 20 percent in a five point loss to Utah.
Garretson also needs to let his arm loose as well. He only threw for 100-plus twice in his six starts—228 yards against Minnesota and 172 yards against Idaho State.
According Oregon Live, Garretson seems fully healed from his ankle injury and there are no noticeable physical limitations surrounding him.
McMaryion was the accurate of the two starting quarterbacks last season. He finished the season completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 1,286 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. But it is the way he ended the 2016 season that was so impressive.
The 6-foot-1, 205 pound gunslinger completed 65 percent or higher of his passes in Oregon State’s last three games. Not only that, but McMaryion went 2-1 as a starter during that stretch and threw for six scores and only one interception.
If McMaryion can prove the coaching staff that he is more assertive in his decision making, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take the field as Oregon State’s 2017 opening day starter.
“(McMaryion) was right where he left off,” Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen said earlier this spring.
Luton brings a different physical dimension to the quarterback race. He stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 227 pounds. When reading that, one assumes Luton is the traditional pocket passer (which he is) but he also possesses quick feet and good speed when he’s on the run.
Originally, Luton started his collegiate career at Idaho. But after seeing little playing time, he transferred to Ventura Community College. There, he finally let loose with his arm.
Luton averaged 42 attempts a game and finished the season with 3,551 and 40 passing touchdowns—which were season and career records at the school.
“He’s everything, from a potential standpoint, that we thought he would be,” said offensive coordinator, Kevin McGiven to Oregon Live about Luton. “Big kid. He’s intelligent. And he can sling the ball around.”
Each quarterback has talent and something to prove in 2017.
The competition will come down to which of these players has the certain team leader quality Andersen seeks in a quarterback.
“Right now, those three kids (McMaryion, Luton and Garretson) are gonna get the most reps as we go through the early part of spring,” Andersen told Oregon Live. “We’ll just see how it cycles its way out. There’s a lot of competition out there in a lot of spots, and right now, the quarterback position is one of those spots. The kids are battling.”