Someone will be left wondering what if about Daxx Garman’s college career. Will it be Arizona fans, who lament the loss of their version of Ryan Mallett? Will it be Garman, sandwiched in a depth chart elsewhere?
A starting point to that question’s four-year answer is Rochester (Ill.) High School, where Wes Lunt earned his diploma this past December.
Most high school seniors spend their final semester spring getting geeked for the prom. Lunt finished his prep course work early, won over his Oklahoma State coaches in spring practice, and earned Mike Gundy’s nod as successor to Brandon Weeden.
Sure beats winning prom king, right?
There is no guarantee Lunt will be the starter when OSU comes to Tucson on Sept. 8. Gundy has any of three quarterbacks who were competing for the job last month. None were Garman, a former Wildcat forced by NCAA transfer regulations to sit out 2012.
Now, Stillwater’s quarterback situations have not been traditional, dating back to Gundy’s infamous "I’m a man" rant of 2007. Bobby Reid was then ousted and transferred to Texas Southern, and Zac Robinson rewrote OSU record books.
When Robinson’s eligibility expired, pundits fretted Gundy lacked a suitable replacement. His literal man-among-boys Weeden was known more for toeing pitcher’s mound rubber than lining up under center, prompting some like Phil Steele to pick OSU last in the Big 12 South before 2010.
Obviously, expectations and realities are different in Stillwater. But if all goes according to plan for Lunt, and he starts a minimum of three seasons, the clipboard-holding duty Garman is relegated to come the Cowboys’ September visit to Arizona Stadium will evolve into a full-time job.
Unlike other recent transfers that have turned ugly, there seemed to be no ill will. Rich Rodriguez allowed Garman his out – to a program UA is to play for a third straight season, no less – and Garman sought what seemed a better opportunity. After all, he came to UA to play in the passer-friendly spread. OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken employs a system similar, and the Cowboys had shown interest when Garman was at Carroll (Southlake, Texas) High.
Transfers are inevitable when a new coaching staff arrives and installs new schemes. UA said hasta luego to both Garman and Tom Savage just weeks after Rodriguez’s hire in November. An immediate thought that came across this blogger’s mind was if UA was destined to become the Michigan to Garman and Savage’s Mallett and Steven Threet.
Threet left UM upon Rodriguez’s arrival, and produced some decent numbers before concussions forced his retirement at Arizona State. But Mallett’s play at Arkansas was the true insult added to the injury of UM’s struggles Rodriguez’s final season.
Rodriguez expressed interest in adapting the spread option to his quarterback’s abilities, including singing Savage’s praises before his departure. And Savage reportedly left for non-football reasons, not because of a changing offensive philosophy. Factor in that the Wildcats’ 2011 offensive coordinator, Robert Anae remains on staff, use of a more traditional, passing quarterback hardly seems far-fetched.
That openness kept Mike Stoops’ commit Josh Kern on board for the 2012 signing class. Kern will arrive on campus this summer, and could factor into a murky back-up competition that would have been less murky with Garman.
The shaky quarterback situation behind Matt Scott was UA’s hot button spring issue, and greatest departure from a season ago. A rare stability at the end of the Stoops’ era was the line of quarterback succession: Nick Foles would turn the team over to Scott, who would turn it over to Savage, who would turn it over to Garman.
There's still limitless mileage on Garman's odometer. Like Lunt, he has yet to play a collegiate snap.