Before you read my column, take a grain of salt.
I'm no football expert or coach and only a semi-observant fan. Still, after watching plenty of all three quarterbacks, I have come to a conclusion as to who the starter should be...
In the coming months, football coach J.D. Brookhart will make a decision arguably more important to the campus community than anything that comes before president Luis Proenza's desk.
Brookhart will decide who will quarterback the Zips for the next few years.
With three underclassmen vying for the role - the most vital spot on the team - the coaching staff isn't just choosing its starter for this year, but the quarterback until that person graduates three or four years down the line.
Indeed, judging QB potential is crucial. It is the difference between Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning.
And you can't just go by the quantifiable measures. All three candidates for Akron's job possess strong arms, elusive running ability and decent field vision. They wouldn't be NCAA Bowl Division quarterbacks if they didn't. Intangibles, such as leadership and character, should also weigh heavily.
After watching several hours of spring football practice the past two weeks, I have come to a conclusion and am prepared to endorse one player. Before I do, here are my scouting reports on all three:
Carlton Jackson - Coming into the spring, "CJ" was No. 1 on the depth chart. A few practices into camp, he suffered a concussion that knocked him out of commission for about a week. Still, he has had plenty of time to show why Brookhart recruited him out of Pompano Beach, Fla.
Jackson shows great poise in the pocket for a sophomore. He appears calm and doesn't fret when his inexperienced offensive line allows defensive penetration. His best gift is a speed more commonly seen from a wide receiver. Jackson might not be thick enough, however, to take a pounding that usually comes with being a running quarterback.
Coaches also have had off-the-field problems with Jackson that may have kept him out of a couple games last season.
Chris Jacquemain - Last season, Jacquemain lost the battle for the backup job to Jackson. He has missed significant time this spring with a minor shoulder injury.
He showed off his good arm when he was healthy. The sophomore's downfield running vision and above average athleticism allow him to gain chunks of yards when receivers are covered. Accuracy is a point of concern, though. He overthrew several passes. One example is the interception Jacquemain threw during the spring game Sunday.
Sean Hakes - Hakes redshirted last season, meaning he did not play, nor did he expend a year of eligibility. Although the injuries to Jackson and Jacquemain limited the team's options the past two weeks, Hakes has taken advantage of the extra snaps to catch up to the other quarterbacks' experience.
Hakes, who also played strong safety at Nolan Catholic High School in Texas, likes to run with the ball. Unlike most quarterbacks, however, the athletic Hakes doesn't mind contact. Nearing the sidelines on one play this spring, Hakes trucked over a linebacker, rather than daintily stepping out of bounds.
Hakes also reminds coaches he's just a freshman almost daily. On many plays, he found an open receiver a blink too late. Rather than look for another target, Hakes tried to force the ball to him anyhow. That was a concoction for several interceptions, but Hakes has worked to cut down on them.
My endorsement - Not that it matters, but I think I have the answer to this pivotal question.
Of course, he must continue to eliminate the "what are you thinking?" passes. But he has demonstrated a humble confidence that makes him receptive to the coaches' teaching, yet is assured his teammates will follow his leadership.
Hakes says he has a genuine passion for taking Akron to another level in college football. Ever since his freshman year of high school, he has dreamt of leading a college team to a bowl game, he said.
Being a redshirt freshman, rather than a sophomore like his competitors, Hakes has an extra year of eligibility. Although Brookhart denies that will play a role in his decision, it is logical that should be a tiebreaker.
In the end, the quarterback decision won't be as consequential as Leaf vs. Manning. All three candidates are capable of being solid Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.
The goal, however, is to tap the next great MAC quarterback to lead the Zips.
I believe that's Sean Hakes.