Badgers football spring practice preview: Alex Hornibrook takes over as clear starter at quarterback
In the days leading up to the start of the University of Wisconsin’s spring football practice on March 14, State Journal beat reporter Jason Galloway will preview each of UW’s position groups. Today, in Part 11 of an 11-part series, he breaks down the Badgers’ quarterbacks.
It was an odd year at quarterback for the Badgers in 2016, with fifth-year senior Bart Houston and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook fighting for playing time throughout the fall and even splitting reps for most of the season.
Both had stretches of great play, but the consistency of the passing game wasn’t where UW would like it to be.
With Houston now gone, Hornibrook will likely take over as the unquestioned starter and have another offseason to grow into a more consistent passer.
UW named Hornibrook as its starting quarterback Monday. That isn’t a big surprise, as no other quarterback on the roster has taken a collegiate snap.
The rising redshirt sophomore completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season for 1,262 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
He played especially well early in the season before fading down the stretch as Houston took more and more reps, but Hornibrook has plenty of time to work on improving his game and regain any confidence he may have lost.
If anyone challenges Hornibrook later on, it would likely be either redshirt freshman Kare Lyles or true freshman Jack Coan.
During spring and fall camp last season, it appeared Lyles still had a ways to go before being ready to take the field. He is, however, the only scholarship quarterback besides Hornibrook still on the team from last year, and he may have improved throughout the fall and winter.
Many are excited about the potential of Coan, an early enrollee who was a highly sought after prospect out of New York. He didn’t face top competition in high school, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares during his first spring practices.
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True freshman Danny Vanden Boom, an in-state prospect out of Kimberly High who will enroll this summer, was put on scholarship for the 2017 class after originally committing as a walk-on. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound signal caller won’t push for the starting job this year, but don’t count him out down the line. It wasn’t long ago that an walk-on quarterback from Wisconsin, Joel Stave, had a prolific career at UW.
This is Hornibrook’s job from the start, and that could be a good thing for him after constantly competing for his place last year. If Hornibrook can become more consistent this season, it could elevate the Badgers’ passing game and offense as a whole.