Photo courtesy of Old Dominion athletics

While head coach Ricky Rahne has said that the battle to be Old Dominion’s starting quarterback is an open competition, we can safely narrow it down to three of the five quarterbacks on the Monarchs’ roster.

The two that we can probably say are out are freshman Reese Poffenbarger, a preferred walk-on who did impress many at the spring scrimmage, and freshman Dominique Anthony, the brother of tight end Donta Anthony Jr.

D.J. Mack

The odds-on favorite to win the job after transferring from UCF back home to Norfolk, Va., Mack is a big body who is more athletic than he looks.

Appearing to take a good bit of the reps with the “first-string” wide receivers at the spring scrimmage, Mack is the guy for ODU. Mack has some great experience from his time at UCF, including in the 2018 American Athletic Conference title game. 

“He is a big strong guy and more athletic than people think he is,” Rahne remarked about the Norview grad. “He has really embraced our offense. I’m happy with what I saw this spring from him and I know this was his first reps in the offense when it was everyone else’s second, so for him to do what he did, I thought was impressive and he will get his second round when we go in the fall.”

Stone Smartt

Smartt is one of two quarterbacks from the Bobby Wilder era to still be on the roster. Having gotten game reps in 2019, Smartt knows what it will be like when ODU opens on Sept. 4 on the road. In 2019, his run-first nature was the target of some ire from fans as they wanted him to throw the ball more in some situations.

If Smartt doesn’t start, look for there to possibly be a few plays for the senior from California. In 2019, he did rush for 181 yards and five scores. During the spring scrimmage, we saw a little bit of what he can do in goal-line scenarios, keeping the ball up the middle for a score in red zone drills.

“It helps when we make the quarterbacks live because part of Stone’s thing is running the ball,” Rahne said. “He is a big, strong guy so having to tackle that dude is hard, so those things where maybe I would have blown the whistle, now he gets in the end zone. I thought that was good and that he played well. Quite frankly, I thought he threw the ball well; he had that one throw he might want back, but in general, I thought he played well.”

Hayden Wolff

Wolff, the other returning 2019 quarterback, is probably currently second behind Mack. After redshirting and starting three games for the Monarchs in 2019, Wolff has four more years that he could play at ODU. Long-term, that looks great.

Hayden, from Venice, Fla., is your typical pro-style quarterback. In 2019, Wolff completed 58.1% of his passes for 737 yards and two touchdowns, while also throwing three interceptions.

Wolff threw an interception in the red zone during the spring scrimmage also. That’s something that cannot happen this season if ODU wants to come close to maximizing its potential.

“(Wolff) has played better and quite frankly, he has played better in some of these scrimmages here so that was good to see him be able to operate the offense and be able to do some things,” Rahne commented. “There’s a couple of things we have to clean up; we can’t have the turnovers in the red zone although that was a great play by the defense. That play needed to happen because it was kind of a 300-level read that he needed to see which is hard to replicate unless it happens to you so that was something we can teach off.”

Current Projected Lineup

Time will tell, but for the moment, we believe the depth chart would look like this:

QB1: Mack

QB2: Wolff

QB3: Smartt (with some red zone quarterback runs)

QB4: Poffenbarger

“We are going to continue to let this thing go because I know they all deserve the opportunity to compete for it,” Rahne said. “As soon as one of them separates themselves and shows that he is the starter then we will name him. That could be at any point but we are not near that point yet.”