Spring position battle: TCU quarterbacks

Quarterback Kenny Hill needs to be more consistent for the Horned Frogs. Jim Cowsert/USA Today Sports

As spring ball gets rolling in the Big 12, we’re taking a closer look this week at the conference’s most interesting position battles. We’re continuing the series today with a preview of the quarterback competition at TCU.

Departed: Foster Sawyer (transferred to Stephen F. Austin)

Spring contenders: Senior Kenny Hill, junior Grayson Muehlstein, redshirt freshman Brennen Wooten, redshirt freshman Jordan Kitna, freshman Shawn Robinson

The skinny: This will only be a true quarterback battle if one of TCU’s backups steps up this offseason and proves he’s as good as or better than Hill. Gary Patterson and Sonny Cumbie need to encourage serious competition at that position in order to push Hill, whose debut year -- like the rest of TCU’s 2016 season -- did not meet high expectations.

Hill finished No. 8 in the Big 12 in QBR (63.9) and No. 9 in passing efficiency while leading the conference in interceptions with 13. He did have a few great performances -- the Oklahoma shootout and the Baylor blowout stand out -- and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for the threat he brings in the run game, where he rushed for 755 yards and 10 TDs on 7.8 yards per carry (excluding sacks). The name of the game for Hill is becoming more consistent, and he did spend his spring break tuning up his game with George Whitfield, so he’s serious about improving.

"Kenny needs to understand he needs to get comfortable being uncomfortable. ... There's nobody on our football team that has a place," Patterson told the Dallas Morning News at the start of spring ball. "For us to win ballgames on the road next year, every position on the team has to be better."

Hill’s backups have zero career passing attempts in college. The Robinson dynamic does make this situation a little more intriguing. The ESPN 300 early enrollee and Gatorade Texas Player of the Year led DeSoto High School to a state championship as a senior with 4,855 total yards and 47 total touchdowns. He comes in with a lot of hype. Robinson has said all along he’s fine with redshirting in 2017 if that’s the coaches’ plan, but can he catch up quickly enough to pose a serious challenge to Hill?

Prediction: Hill will continue to be the guy, and Cumbie taking over the offensive playcalling this season ought to be a good thing for the senior. TCU does need to develop a strong No. 2 option, though, in the event Hill struggles. Fans will undoubtedly call for Robinson at some point in the season, but taking a patient approach with the prized rookie might be the better long-term move.