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Kyle Shurmur has the starting job locked up, but Vanderbilt should feel all right about the backups, too

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Deuce Wallace looked capable in limited action, and Allan Walters has upside.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt’s quarterback situation has come a long way since 2014, when Derek Mason played four different quarterbacks. That year, Patton Robinette opened the season as the starter and was quickly pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary, who’d appear in ten games that season — but true freshman Wade Freebeck and whatever Stephen Rivers was also made appearances along the way.

Robinette and Rivers would both leave the program after that season, and McCrary would leave after 2015 — a season in which he lost the starting job to a true freshman after a particularly poor performance midway through the season. Kyle Shurmur started the final three games of that season and hasn’t missed a start since.

Vanderbilt enters 2018 with just three quarterbacks on scholarship — Jacob Free transferred to Northwest Mississippi CC after taking a redshirt in his first year on campus, and Shawn Stankavage, who played sparingly in four years at Vanderbilt, went to Rice as a graduate transfer.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, but at least for the 2018 season, it’s not a particularly interesting position. Shurmur is going to be the starter, and unless he’s injured he won’t be relinquishing the job. Things will get interesting in 2019, though.

The Starter

Kyle Shurmur, Senior: In 2017, as Shurmur went, so went the Vanderbilt offense. Shurmur’s season-long statistics — 2823 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 57.9 percent completion rate — were fine, but in three games, Shurmur completed under 50 percent of his passes. Unsurprisingly, the Commodores lost all three of those games. Seven of his 10 interceptions came in just two games — which just happened to be must-win November home games against Kentucky and Missouri. (The Kentucky game was a particularly weird performance; Shurmur only threw 13 incompletions on 43 attempts, but four of them happened to end up in the hands of Kentucky players.) He arguably lost the Kentucky game for the Commodores, but beat Tennessee and very nearly single-handedly took down South Carolina.

Still, Shurmur is in no danger of losing his position as the starter, and with Ralph Webb gone the Commodores’ offense will again ride on the senior’s arm.

The Backup

Deuce Wallace, redshirt sophomore: Wallace has been brought along slowly, taking a redshirt year in 2016 and playing sparingly in 2017. He got his feet wet against Alabama A&M, came on in relief of Shurmur in blowout losses to Alabama and Ole Miss, and spent a few minutes running out the clock at the tail end of the UT game. He threw his first touchdown pass at Ole Miss, and on the season completed 11-of-22 passes. Assuming Shurmur is healthy, expect Wallace to be deployed in a similar manner in 2018 — but he’s the heir apparent entering 2019. But he’ll have to fend off competition from...

The Prospect

Allan Walters, freshman: Walters was, at one point, rated as a four-star quarterback recruit. ESPN still rated him that way, but Rivals and 247 mysteriously dropped their ratings after he committed to Vanderbilt. (I call shenanigans; I mean, he had a Bama offer, guys.) As a senior at the Peddie School in New Jersey, Walters completed 142-of-184 passes for 2,237 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

Under the old rules, we probably wouldn’t expect to see Walters on the field until 2019 unless things got really weird. But the new redshirt rule passed this summer — allowing for a player to appear in four games and still preserve a fifth year of eligibility — means that we will probably see Walters get some action against Tennessee State, and he can appear in three more games as well. With only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, though, I would still expect the coaching staff to hold Walters back as much as possible in case all hell breaks loose and Vanderbilt absolutely has to play him at some point.

The Walk-On

Mo Hasan, redshirt sophomore: With Vanderbilt hurting for quarterback depth after Jacob Free and Shawn Stankavage left the program, the Commodores added Mo Hasan as a preferred walk-on earlier in the summer. Hasan started his college career at Syracuse in 2016, then played last year at Coffeyville CC in Kansas, where he threw for 996 yards on 71-of-132 passing. He’s around in case of emergency.