Nebraska Football: Taylor Martinez vs Bubba Starling

Tim KeefCorrespondent IJune 13, 2011

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers rushes for an 80 yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Washington Huskies on September 18, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Cornhuskers defeated the Huskies 56-21.(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

"Bubba Watch 2011" has reached a fever pitch with Husker fans and Royals fans alike waiting on the outcome of an extremely important decision from one preposterously talented 18-year-old.

The decision question is whether Bubba Starling will chuck footballs for Nebraska or hit fastballs within the Royals organization in 2011.

If you are a Royals fan, there really is only one positive outcome, play baseball.  Starling is one of the best baseball prospects period, and the fact that he was the first position player taken in the 2011 MLB draft speaks volumes of his talent.

If you are a Huskers fan, the camp might be more divided than you think.  Obviously, the more talent you bring in, the better.  But if you liked your freshman phenom from last year (Taylor Martinez), you might be a little inclined to hope Bubba signs with the Royals.

Who makes more sense as a starter for Nebraska? 

The case for Martinez to retain the staring QB spot in 2011 is strong, regardless of the somewhat dramatic ups and downs he experienced in 2010.

Martinez was, after all, only a freshman.  He made plenty of freshman mistakes, but his injuries and somewhat questionable decision making muddled an electrifying start to his career. No one can argue that Martinez was unstoppable before his first injury.

Bubba Starling, on the other hand, had some gaudy stats of his own in high school.  For a guy that has a pro-style QB body (6'5, 200 lbs), Starling diced up opposing defenses to the tune of 2,400 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns.

One thing Starling didn't do so much was pass the football.  He amassed less than 1,000 passing yards his senior season and threw nearly as many picks (6) as touchdowns (8).  For all the athleticism, Starling is going to have to throw the ball more, unless Tim Beck suddenly decides to revert back to the triple option.

If Starling does decide to sign with the Royals, the starting job for the Huskers is still Martinez's to lose. You don't simply show the flashes he showed, as a freshman, and get displaced - at least early on in the season.

Even if Starling decides to forgo a Major League contract for now and suit up for the Huskers, Martinez is still your guy at QB.  The situation here becomes a debate and QB controversy in the upcoming seasons.

Even still, Starling joining Martinez and Brion Carnes in the backfield may have more immediate ramifications.

Martinez may decide that the room is too crowded and bolt for a program that would instantly plug him in - say UCLA or any other number of PAC-12 schools.  For Husker fans that are Martinez supporters, this is a frighteningly real reality.

If Starling comes aboard and shakes up the QB competition, Martinez or Carnes may be asked to make a switch to another position, most likely receiver.  No doubt, Martinez could be molded into a fine receiver, but he fought tooth and nail to be the Husker QB - even as an incoming freshman.

Ultimately, the decision between Martinez and Starling comes down to experience, and Martinez easily wins that battle.  This is not to say Starling can't immediately come in and push for the starting job.  If that sounds preposterous, you don't just become the 5th overall pick in the MLB draft without being ridiculously talented.  It is a very real possibility.

For Bubba, his decision is a tough but envious one - make millions, with a chance to be the next Mickey Mantle, or sign with an historic football program that is on the upswing with a legitimate chance to be the QB of the future.

For Martinez, the somewhat mercurial QB will have some decisions of his own if Starling decides to wear scarlet and cream.