10 spring QB battles that could define the 2016 college football season

Spring football doesn't get a ton of buzz -- after all, spring games don't count in the standings -- but the battles fought in the spring go a long way to winning games in the fall.

So when it comes to the most important position on the field, quarterback, there's no question that every rep, whether it's in the spring or the fall, matters.

With that in mind, here are 10 of college football's most interesting QB battles this spring:

Spring game: April 16

The Crimson Tide lost their starting quarterback, their Heisman Trophy-winning running back, and a whole lot of talent to the NFL following their National Championship triumph, but they're the odds-on favorites to win the title again next season.

Junior Cooper Bateman, who started a game for the Tide last year, is the proverbial favorite to win the Tide's starting quarterback job, but David Cornwell, Blake Barnett, and early enrollee Jalen Hurts are in the thick of things as well.

Seeing has Alabama waited until SEC play to resolve their quarterback battle last year, there's no reason to think this year's competition will be short-lived.

Spring game: April 1

Jim Harbaugh's team surprised many by winning 10 games in his first year, which was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign.

Expectations have been raised for 2016, and now the Wolverines need to figure out who will replace Jake Ruddock at quarterback.

The favorite is Houston transfer John O'Korn, a pro-style signal caller who, like Rudock, is a graduate of Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.

Rudock backups Shane Morris and Wilton Speight are expected to get strong looks as well. Alex Malzone redshirted after being a key piece of Harbaugh's first recruiting class and will join the fray as well. And don't sleep on early enrollee Brandon Peters in all of this -- along with O'Korn, he was brought in by Harbaugh and could see some favoritism.

Harbaugh loves to test mettle through competition, and with five men in the fray for one job, this battle could last deep into fall camp.

Spring game: April 16

Of the teams on this list, the Irish could be viewed as sitting the prettiest, as both quarterbacks vying for the team's top job are coming off impressive seasons.

But as the adage goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you have none, and Brian Kelly couldn't go wrong in picking either QB to start this season. That might make it difficult to pick one and stick with him.

Malik Zaire carried the starting job and some Heisman buzz into the start of 2015, only to fracture his ankle in a Week Two game against Virginia.

DeShone Kizer took the helm and completed 62 percent of his passes while throwing for 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Notre Dame's close losses to Clemson and Stanford kept the Irish out of the playoff, but Kizer's strong performance put the junior neck-and-neck with Zaire heading into the spring.

This is one battle that could go deep into fall camp.

Spring game: April 9

The Tigers weren't supposed to have a quarterback controversy this season -- after all, Jeremy Johnson was a Heisman favorite going into the 2015 season.

Well, Gus Malzahn has one now, and it's...messy.

Sean White took over for Johnson after the then-junior struggled early in the season, only for White to never find a rhythm with the Tiger offense. Johnson reclaimed the starting QB job and performed admirably in Auburn's final five games, scoring eight touchdowns and throwing only one interception.

The introduction of junior college transfer and former FSU quarterback John Franklin adds additional intrigue to the brew. Franklin, a South Florida-bred dual threat is called the "presumptive favorite" to win the job by AL.com, but as he's fighting two incumbents (of sorts) this competition could last longer than a few spring weeks. It'll certainly make the spring game interesting.

Spring game: April 8

This was meant to be a competition between Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio and Treon Harris, with the latter likely moving to defensive back if he didn't win the job -- but seeing as Harris is being held out of spring practices for undisclosed reasons, this battle is now between Del Rio and early enrollee Feleipe Franks. Can either bring life to Florida's anemic offense?

Spring game: April 1

You remember Kenny "Trill" Hill, right? After receiving Heisman buzz early in the 2014 season, Hill lost his starting job and then left College Station before 2015 spring practices, landing in Ft. Worth.

If Hill can find his confidence again, he'll quickly be chosen to replace Trevone Boykin. But there's no guarantee of that, and 6-foot-5 sophomore Foster Sawyer, who started against Oklahoma last year, could push Hill for snaps.

Spring game: April 9

To be honest, it's hard to keep up with who is actually on the Aggies depth chart at quarterback, seeing the position has been a revolving door for the last 12 months.

The post-Johnny Football era in College Station has been about as successful as Johnny Football's post-College Station era, and that has coach Kevin Sumlin feeling some heat. This quarterback battle could well determine Sumlin's future in maroon.

Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight is the favorite in this battle, but Jake Hubenak, who started in the Aggies Music City Bowl loss to Louisville and had a few tantalizing moments, is no pushover. But seeing as Knight has only one year of eligibility remaining, it's hard to see him not landing the job.

Most of the intrigue in this battle will come from Sumlin and how he handles the decision. There's no right way to handle it, but Sumlin could hurt his own cause if he flip-flops on his No. 1.

Spring game: April 9

Sean Maguire should be rolling into his redshirt senior season as Jimbo Fisher's main man, but all reports out of Tallahassee say that's not the case, as talented freshmen Malik Henry and Deondre Francois are going to be given shots at the QB1 role.

Maguire might thrive with the competition, or we may see the beginnings of a messy situation that could last into the fall.

Spring game: April 16

This could be one of the more congenial quarterback battles this spring, but that doesn't mean it won't be hotly contested. Clay Helton, the quarterbacks coach for departing signal-caller Cody Kessler, is now the head coach in L.A., so there's continuity in the offense. Add in the familiarity factor -- the two main competitors for the starting job were both with the team last year -- and this should be a fairly straightforward process.

Former five-star recruit Max Browne, who was Kessler's scarcely used backup for the last two years, is the favorite to win the job, but redshirt freshman Sam Darnold impressed coaches last fall and provides more mobility at the position, which might appeal to Helton in his first full year in charge.

Spring game: April 16

Charlie Strong is entering a make-or-break year in Austin, and having a solid hand at quarterback is key to making sure expectations are met.

With the Longhorns moving to a Baylor-style spread offense this year, Strong has characterized the quarterback job as "wide open." Senior Tyrone Swoopes is the prohibitive favorite, but electrifying sophomore Jerrod Heard and true freshman Shane Buechele are in the running as well.

Given the system change in Austin, there's no reason to think this decision will come soon.