After two seasons of quarterback battles, Vanderbilt will head into August with a definite starter at the position. Coach Derek Mason told reporters on Tuesday that sophomore Kyle Shurmur will be the team's top option behind center.
I want to just say this: We have a clear-cut one and a clear-cut two. Kyle Shurmur is my clear-cut starter.
- Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason
Shurmur had battled junior Wade Freebeck for the starting role this spring after emerging as the team's No. 1 late in the 2015 season. He went 2-3 as a starter and notched conference wins over Kentucky and Missouri -- something no Vanderbilt quarterback had done since Austyn Carta-Samuels and Patton Robinette teamed up to beat Tennessee in 2013. He only completed 42.7 percent of his passes as a true freshman, but limited his turnovers to give the team a consistent presence at QB.
Mason's early announcement was a staunch departure from the philosophy he brought to Nashville in 2014. He played Robinette, Johnny McCrary, and walking skeleton Stephen Rivers in his first game with the team. Four different passers took snaps for the Commodores that season. In 2015, he gave McCrary six weeks to establish himself as the team's starter, then burned Shurmur's redshirt after a 2-4 span.
Shurmur was one of the most highly-rated recruits to come to Nashville under Mason's reign. He was a four-star prospect out of eastern Pennsylvania and is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. In six games last season, he showed off solid composure last season, but didn't take many risks when he stood in the pocket. That made him the first Vandy QB since 2013 to post a positive touchdown:interception ratio, but also limited his efficiency to just 4.9 yards per pass.
The sophomore had a solid showing at the team's spring Black and Gold game, completing seven of nine passes for 96 yards. Barring catastrophe, he'll be the man to jumpstart this team's offense when Vanderbilt opens the 2016 season on September 1st.