Competition can be a great teacher.
When Coach Paul Rhoads announced Monday that Sam Richardson would be the Cyclones’ starting QB, it was the second season in a row he was tabbed the starter.
His climb to No. 1 this year was much different than his path to the top of the depth chart in 2013.
When spring camp opened in ’13, Richardson was coming off three games as the primary quarterback at the end of his freshman season.
And when Jared Barnett decided to transfer in January that year, it left Richardson as the only QB on the depth chart with any playing experience. Chance Creekmur, Trevor Hodge, Brandon Horbach, Joel Lanning and Grant Rohach were the other QBs on the roster.
Although Richardson had played well to close his rookie season, there was no experienced competition.
Fast forward to this spring.
Richardson and Rohach were coming off a season in which they shared playing time. Toss in a new coordinator (Mark Mangino) and a different QB coach (Todd Sturdy) and the table was set for a true competition to earn the starting slot in 2014.
There was a month-long audition between the two – along with Lanning – for the position. Richardson’s daily performance in the last couple of weeks nudged him ahead of Rohach.
Rhoads cited a list of things that Richardson improved upon since last year. He also pointed out that Rohach is a much better player, too, than he was in his freshman season.
Iowa State has two QBs with Big 12 wins on their resumes. That’s a good thing.
Beyond being battle tested and proven winners, they’ve also competed for playing time. That competition accelerated development and that means ISU’s quarterback position is in better shape now that any point in Rhoads’ tenure.