Kansas football players are facing many unknowns as the COVID-19 pandemic looms over the season, but one bit of uncertainty is all too familiar to the Jayhawks: the quarterback competition.
Since the pandemic wiped out the entire spring football schedule for KU, there was no obvious frontrunner for the most visible starting spot on the team when preseason practices began this past Friday. Nor was there a player on the roster who took in-game snaps at QB during the 2019 season.
But early in the offseason, offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon identified two QBs he expected to battle for the job: senior Thomas MacVittie and junior Miles Kendrick.
MacVittie lined up at receiver a couple of times during his 2019 debut season at KU as a transfer from Mesa Community College in Arizona. He threw one pass on a trick play at Oklahoma State that got intercepted.
Kendrick hasn’t checked into a game for KU since 2018, when he played as a reserve early in the year, before taking a redshirt season. The former College of San Mateo QB completed 11 of 19 passes for the Jayhawks almost two years ago, for 100 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Kendrick also rushed for 47 yards and a TD during his limited appearances.
Kendrick told the Journal-World a few months back he was counting on a much different feel to this year’s preseason because of the loss of spring practices.
“I think competition everywhere is just going to be ramped up even more,” Kendrick said when asked about battling with MacVittie for the starting job, “because there's less margin for error because there's less time.”
Although KU’s preseason practices got started this past Friday, neither head coach Les Miles nor any players have yet been made available for interviews.
Kendrick told the Journal-World earlier this year players would have to take it upon themselves in the months leading up to August practices to arrive in great shape and mentally prepared.
“The guy that has the least margin of error, I think that's the guy that's going to come out on top on any position battle,” Kendrick said, “so I think it's going to be more intense, more ramped up, just because spring ball didn't happen. So, I think now guys are really looking forward and are really going to be looking to see who's going to be the leader and who's going to take charge of this thing.”
Former KU quarterback Carter Stanley started every game for the Jayhawks (3-9) in 2019, completing 60.9% of his 371 passes for 2,664 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Stanley was a fifth-year player in the program and already had nine career starts when he emerged as the starter for Miles’ first KU team, beating out MacVittie.
Whoever becomes KU’s next No. 1 QB will make his FBS starting debut when the Jayhawks next play.
The only other upperclassman among KU’s quarterbacks is junior walk-on Miles Fallin. The other three QBs on the roster are freshmen: 2020 signee Jalon Daniels, 2019 signee Jordan Medley (who didn’t enroll until the 2020 spring semester as a grayshirt) and walk-on Jordan Preston, a redshirt freshman.
Torry Locklin, who entered the program as a quarterback and played some snaps in a Wildcat (or Jayhawk) role in 2019, is listed at running back heading into his redshirt freshman season.
Miles Kendrick (jr.) — 5-10, 205 pounds
Thomas MacVittie (sr.) — 6-5, 225 pounds
Jalon Daniels (fr.) — 6-0, 200 pounds
Miles Fallin (jr.) — 6-6, 225 pounds
Jordan Medley (fr.) — 6-2, 210 pounds
Jordan Preston (RS-fr.) — 5-10, 215 pounds