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Weighing Options at QB for the Bearcats

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There are three quarterbacks who have a legitimate shot at being named the starter.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

There has still been no official statement made about who will start under center for the Cincinnati Bearcats in the season opener against Tennessee-Martin. However, we will finally get an answer to that oh-so-important question soon, perhaps even in the next few days.

Let’s take a look at the resume for each candidate.

Gunner Kiel

The incumbent starter, Kiel is entering his last collegiate season after a career that started at Notre Dame and will end at UC. A fifth-year senior, there was some uncertainty surrounding his return last winter, as he did not make the trip for UC’s appearance in the Hawaii Bowl. After rejoining the team, Kiel was not immediately given his job back and he has been competing for it all spring and summer.

In two seasons for the Bearcats, Kiel has amassed an astounding 6,031 yards and 50 touchdowns on 62.2 percent passing, while being intercepted 24 times. He has thrown 706 passes as a Bearcat and started 10 games last season. However, some scary shots to the head in September and his absence from UC’s spring game loosened his grip on the starting job. If you take out the injuries and time missed, Kiel would appear to be the slam-dunk option. He has succeeded in a major way with the Bearcats, piling up yards and touchdowns in Tommy Tuberville’s pass-happy offense. However, after an injury-marred 2015 season in which UC struggled to live up to preseason hype, Tuberville may be looking to make some big changes.

Hayden Moore

A former three-star recruit and the apparent heir to Kiel’s throne, Moore got tested quite a bit last season. He answered the call admirably, if not overwhelmingly successfully. He completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,885 yards and nine touchdowns, but he was intercepted 11 times and went 1-2 as the starter. He did himself no favors in the spring game, as he was intercepted twice while completing just 7-of-18 passes for 81 yards. Still, with a year under his belt, Moore has proven he can play at this level and he represents a higher upside play than Kiel, especially since he might just be the starter, or at least compete for the job, after 2016.

Ross Trail

If Moore isn’t the starter in the near future, it will be because Trail overtakes him. A four-star recruit according to ESPN, Trail was rated the No. 21 pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class by 247Sports. Even if his road to UC was a long and winding one, Trail is here now and it is not outside the realm of possibility that he could get the starting job. He looked good in the spring, throwing for 157 yards on 12-of-21 passing while matching a touchdown pass with an interception. Like Moore, Trail’s upside makes him extremely intriguing. Whether or not Tuberville wants to go with intrigue over proven experience will determine who wins out in the end. With Tuberville's seat slowly heating up, making a riskier move could pay off in a big way, or lead to an even bigger shakeup next offseason.